Washington Redskins fans have been in a state of unrest since the NFL's Free Agency period began almost two weeks ago. The unrest comes at the fact that free agent Pro Bowl middle linebacker London Fletcher has yet to be re-signed.
When the Redskins' dismal season came to a close last January both Fletcher and head coach Mike Shanahan made it seem like a contract extension was imminent. In fact Shanahan said that re-signing Fletcher was the Redskins "top priority". Now that free agency is two weeks old and the Skins have signed several players (none of them named Fletcher) you have to wonder if he really was priority number one.
Of course in between Shanahan's comments and the start of free agency was the NFL (lead by Giants owner John Mara) unjust cap penalty of the Redskins (to the tune of $36 million). So one the Redskins lost all of that extra money they had their priorities may have changed.
Many Redskin fans have been anxious and fear that the team will lose out on last season's leading tackler. However there are things pointing to Fletcher's return to the Burgundy and Gold.
The first is that the two sides are still talking. This more than likely means there is only one or two sticking points in the contract. I have a hunch that it's the upfront money. Money the Skins would have easily handed to Fletcher had they not been hit with this cap penalty. I suspect that both sides might be awaiting the Redskins arbitration hearing over the penalty to see if the Redskins are going to be given that money back.
The second good sign is that there have been no reports of Fletcher meeting with other teams. If the Redskins had completely insulted Fletcher with a contract offer then he'd probably be at other teams facilities the past two weeks trying to work out a deal or at least an offer to take back to the Redskins and say "See, this is what team B thinks I'm worth." So far that hasn't happened yet which means talks are still civil and something will probably get done.
With all of that said I think something will happen this week on the Fletcher front and I think he'll be re-signed with a contract both sides really like.
The NFL team meetings are this week and I think we'll get the whole "cap thing" finalized. Whether that means the Redskins will get the money back this year, not get it back at all, or because of the arbitration period taking too long the Skins will be informed that they won't get the money back this season but if they win it will be put back in future seasons (probably 2013 and 2014). This means the Skins will know exactly where they stand as far as the cap goes for 2012 and will know what they can offer Fletcher.
I don't believe either side wants to drag this out much further and I think once the Redskins have a clear picture of their arbitration case then they'll know exactly how to handle Fletcher's contract and hopefully this all gets done by Friday.
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