Player Profiles: London Fletcher
The Washington Redskins are often criticized for making a bigger splash in March than they are able to muster in September. Following the return of Joe Gibbs, who is known for preferring veteran free agents to untested draft picks, the Redskins have had multiple personalities when it comes to approaching free agency.
With mixed success – and plenty of disappointments – the Redskins have made big splashes in free agency one year, followed by a quiet, conservative approach in the following year. This offseason has been on the conservative side, with the Redskins' biggest acquisition undoubtedly being veteran middle linebacker London Fletcher.
Since being named the Rams' rookie of the year after his debut season with St. Louis, Fletcher has been a consistent top performer. He's recorded over 130 tackles in six out of the last seven seasons, and his tackling seems to improve with age. He's been a top-5 tackler in the past three seasons with the Buffalo Bills. He's also recorded 9.5 sacks, forced three fumbles (and recovered four), and logged five interceptions in that same time span. He led the Bills in tackles every year and set a franchise record for tackles with 209 in 2002.
Fletcher will join a Gregg Williams' defense for the second time in his career this fall, having played under him in Buffalo for the 2003 season. London will bring the physical talent, familiarity with the scheme, and veteran leadership that the Redskins need out of their MLB, often cited as the equivalent of “quarterback” on defense.
At 32 and with nine years of experience, Fletcher is certainly closer to his retirement than his college days, and there are obvious concerns over his age. Yet he has shown remarkable consistency in his career so far, never missing a regular season game due to injury, appearing in 144 games over nine seasons.
Fletcher's achievements go beyond his play on the field. He is known as a leader with a strong locker-room presence, and he was given the Buffalo Bills 2005 Walter Payton Man of the Year for his charity work and contributions to the community.
College: John Carroll
Draft: 2003 – UFA signed by St. Louis Rams
This article was released on 2007-05-29.
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