Updated: 5:58 p.m.
The Washington Redskins reached a deal Friday on a new contract with free agent inside linebacker London Fletcher, ending a lengthy negotiation with the team’s captain, who led the NFL in tackles last season.
Fletcher tweeted “Redskins fans your captain is back! #HTTR # Resign59” and a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed that he and the team had come to terms.
The terms of the pact were not available Friday evening. Fletcher, his representatives and the Redskins did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The Washington Redskins are close to re-signing free agent linebacker London Fletcher, a person with knowledge of the negotiations said Friday. A deal between Fletcher and the Redskins was within reach and could be completed as soon as later Friday, the person said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the talks are confidential.
After making the trade to position themselves to draft a franchise quarterback, and then signing Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan to upgrade the receiving corps, re-signing Fletcher remained as the team’s top offseason priority. The team still hopes to upgrade its offensive line, particularly the right tackle position, where Jammal Brown is trying to come back from a season-ending hip injury. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Redskins use their third-round pick (69th overall) on a right tackle.
Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said at the annual league meeting late last month in Palm Beach, Fla., that the team remained intent upon re-signing Fletcher and conversations were ongoing.
The league-owned NFL Network reported earlier Friday there were hopes the deal could be completed this weekend, before the Redskins begin their offseason conditioning program Monday.
Fletcher, who turns 37 next month, has spent the last five seasons with the Redskins and is regarded as one of the team’s most indispensable players. He has played 224 consecutive games over 14 years and led the NFL in tackles last season. Players say he is a respected locker room leader.
Some in the NFL have assumed that the Redskins would re-sign Fletcher. It is unclear why it has taken this long to strike a deal.
Just before free agency began last month, the NFL reduced the Redskins’ salary cap space by $36 million over two years. The Redskins and Dallas Cowboys, who received a $10 million salary cap hit over two years, are challenging the decision via arbitration.
There has been speculation recently that the salary cap case was delaying completion of a deal with Fletcher. Shanahan refused to directly address the salary cap matter at the league meeting last month, but mentioned it several times in answers to questions about the team’s free agent maneuvers. Still, the Redskins have signed other free agents and appear to have sufficient salary cap flexibility to complete a deal with Fletcher.
“I’ve said this from day one: London is a team leader, a great player, and we want him back,” Shanahan said at the league meeting.
The terms under discussion with Fletcher were not available Friday.