As @HTTR24_7 reported earlier last week London Fletcher is leaning toward retirement, marking an end to a remarkable career that began in 1999 when Fletcher was selected as undrafted free agent by the St. Louis Rams out of Cleveland’s John Carroll University.
Does he want to retire, or is he being strongly encouraged by the Redskins because they don’t want the public relations nightmare that will come with releasing him ? Probably a little from Column A and a little from Column B. The harsh reality is London Fletcher is not the player he once was. Well ok, I know what you are thinking now. Of course, he is! Look at all the interceptions last season. Ok sure I’ll give you that. But let’s also not forget the missed tackles, the cellar-dwelling PFF rating, the missed practices, etc. It is extremely rare for any pro athlete to experience this, but as the saying goes “better to leave a year to early than stay a year to long.”
On the other hand, maybe Fletcher is retiring (if he is indeed) on his volition. He made the rounds during the playoffs (post Seattle) as a guest TV analyst. On one of his visits, he told ESPN that a post-playing TV career is his preference.
Lucky for him, he made quite the impression with several media executives. We hear one network was so impressed with his work; they are prepared to offer him a permanent position, and the feeling could be mutual.
This is not about London Fletcher. This is about what it means for others.
Redskins Salary Cap Situation
Not exactly a Scrooge McDuck swimming in gold situation, but the best thing that London Fletcher can do to the Redskins bottom line is retire. Currently Fletcher counts $5.5MM against the cap in 2013. If he retires (or is released), it will be a net cap savings of $3.4MM. People hate to hear that football is a business, but it is. As much love as the Redskins and their fans has for London Fletcher, it is hard to argue the team is not better off in the long run using the money they would spend on Fletcher elsewhere.
The modern-day London Fletcher in many respects-undrafted, always dependable, team leader-is a free agent this off-season. Reports came out that Alexander rejected the team’s initial offer. But as @Rich_Campbell noted on Twitter the two sides made significant progress during the combine. If his carpool mate calls it quits though, Zeke’s arguably has some more leverage. Redskins fans love Lorenzo, but teams are not going to be beating down the door to sign him. But all it takes is one (like Pittsburgh for example). If Fletcher and the Redskins do part ways, the Redskins will need immediate help. Alexander played just 85 snaps on the inside last season and was unremarkable (not great, not terrible, just kind of ‘there’) yet even with additional dollars the Redskins will not have enough to go after a big name player. Lorenzo Alexander could emerge as the biggest winner here.
If they re-sign Alexander, he could be the short-term fix as the defensive play caller on the field as he was when he filled in for Fletch last season. Don’t be mistaken, the future belongs to Perry Riley. Riley has come a long way from committing boneheaded penalties on special teams in 2010 and is-in this writer’s opinion-poised to become a stud ILB in this league. A London Fletcher departure means it is time for Perry to be the man. I’m not including Keenan Robinson here because a) he is hurt and not quite ready and b) my biased opinion says Riley has the brighter future as an overall player/team leader than Keenan.
These will not be the only people who will be impacted by London leaving of course, but these stand to be the biggest beneficiaries.