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Free Agency Ahead, Fletcher Looms Large

Posted Mar 4, 2013

With just eight days left before the start of free agency, the Redskins want an indication of whether LB London Fletcher will be back next season.

For the second-consecutive offseason, the Redskins' front office is left to wonder whether No. 59 will be back at inside linebacker and team captain heading into next season.

The Redskins were able to re-sign London Fletcher after a month on the free agent market, coming to terms on a two-year deal with the veteran shortly before the start of offseason workouts.

Fletcher told Redskins.com during the season that he could not envision playing past the end of this contract, which expires after the 2013 season.

"I don’t really see myself playing beyond two more years," he said. "I’m really on a year-to-year basis, that’s how I look at it mentally. I don’t see myself going beyond that."

However, after the team's Wild Card loss to the Seattle Seahawks, Fletcher said he was at least considering retirement now.

"I’ll take the same process that I’ve taken the last four or five years," he explained. "I’ll take some time to let the emotions of the season kind of get away, refresh for a little bit and then sit down with my family and make the decision from there as far as whether I’ll continue to play or not."

Fletcher suffered an ankle injury in Week 11 against the Philadelphia Eagles and practiced sparingly through the rest of the season.

Despite missing substantial practice time for the first time in his career, Fletcher continued to deliver on gameday, leading the team in tackles, winning NFC Defensive Player of the Month for December and being voted to his fourth-consecutive Pro Bowl.

“I think there is a fine line. You know, if you can’t get it done or if you feel like you still can be effective," he explained. "If you think you can play, of course you need to be out there."

If Fletcher decides to retire, the team will have a major void to fill from an emotional and production standpoint.

Inside linebacker could be addressed in free agency or the draft. Either way, head coach Mike Shanahan said the team would like to know an answer heading into next Tuesday.

"I really don’t know," Shanahan said of Fletcher's plans. "London’s the type of guy [where] you don’t even want to ask him a question because his mindset is he’s a warrior [for] how hard he’s played and what he’s done for this organization."

In Shanahan's experience, the players that ponder retirement too long are the ones that are already mentally retired.

"One thing you have to do, is you have to have a mindset that there’s no way you’re going to retire," Shanahan said. "If you’re thinking about retirement and you’re not really sure...you’re probably already retired."

The team has options at inside linebacker, with Lorenzo Alexander, Bryan Kehl, Keenan Robinson, Roddrick Muckelroy and Vic So'oto all candidates to return.

"All those things you have to have a game plan for," Shanahan said. "If [Fletcher] does come back, doesn’t come back...you just don’t know.

"We’ve got a game plan for all scenarios, but you’re always hoping that your great players keep on playing at a high level."

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