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Redskins should re-sign Brian Orakpo and Perry Riley, according to London Fletcher

London Fletcher calls Perry Riley Jr., show here against the Eagles, and Brian Orakpo cornerstones of the Redskins’ defense (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

London Fletcher says the Washington Redskins should focus on re-signing fellow linebackers Perry Riley Jr. and Brian Orakpo.

Orakpo, Riley and Fletcher are among the seven current defensive starters for the Redskins eligible for unrestricted free agency in the upcoming offseason.

“It’s not ideal to have more than half your defense not under contract,” Fletcher said Thursday at Redskins Park. “That’s something that you don’t see most teams do. But it’s kind of it is what it is, for whatever reason, whether it’s [from a salary] cap standpoint or whatever, not being able to get more guys locked up. I think there’s some good young football players the organization needs to continue to lock up when you look at Perry, you look at ‘Rak. Those two guys just come to mind because they’re young guys just coming off their first rookie deals. So those are cornerstones that you need to keep around.”

Cornerbacks DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson and safeties Brandon Meriweather and Reed Doughty also are prospective free agents.

“There’s other guys that play good football even though the record doesn’t show it,” Fletcher said. “D-Hall is having a great year. I know he’s on a one-year deal. He comes to mind. I think Meriweather has played some really good football down the stretch as he’s gotten healthy. There’s guys that are playing good football that are free agents. But when the wins don’t come, people always want changes to come.”

Fletcher said he’s not concerned that players who are potential free agents will take a selfish approach on the field in what remains of the season, with the Redskins eliminated from playoff contention.

“You’ve got to realize if you’re a free agent, you’re always going to continue to be evaluated,” he said. “So I think everybody wants to play good football. The better you play and if it happens to be your free agent year, the likelihood is somebody will be willing to pay you more money. That’s just how it is. One thing that kind of gets lost a lot is when you’re losing, people automatically assume you don’t have good football players. I don’t think that’s the case with us. We just haven’t played good football as a team. But we still have a lot of good football players.”

Redskins players will continue to take a professional approach, according to Fletcher.

“That part of it, if you allow to come into your psyche, it can affect your approach, your preparation,” he said. “But just the way guys are, how attentive they are in the meetings, just looking at the way we practice, things like that, you know guys are still into it. The season hasn’t gone great for us and we understand that. But we still have a responsibility to go out and play our best football. That’s just what our job calls for. It’s still a situation where we go out and try to get a win…. Whether at the end of the season you’re in the playoffs or not, you still just want to win as many ballgames as possible.”

Fletcher joined Hall, defensive tackle Barry Cofield and wide receiver Santana Moss among the Redskins players who have said in recent weeks they would like to see Coach Mike Shanahan and his staff retained by the franchise for next season.

“I think we’ve got a good coaching staff,” Fletcher said. “Again, it’s the same coaching staff we had that won the NFC East. But people look at you from a different lens when you don’t win.”

Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag on Tuesdays.

What’s ahead:

● The Redskins practice Friday at 11:50 a.m.

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