COMMENTARY | It's sad to say, but London Fletcher just isn't who he used to be, Washington Redskins fans. While we all love his tenacity and passion for the game, he just isn't their best option at middle linebacker and his body is beginning to break down like all 16-year veterans.
The linebacker from John Carroll has slowed down considerably between this year and last. Against the Eagles, he had a hard time keeping the sideline-to-sideline speed that he once had and it hurt them. While he still brings it every Sunday, his days in the NFL are starting to wind down.
Slowly but surely, his body is beginning to break down. Over the offseason, Fletcher had surgery on his elbow and ankle. In preseason, he missed time due to a concussion and he recently sprained his ankle in the fourth quarter against the Giants this past Sunday night. Nick Barnett has been taking a couple of series or so a game so Fletcher can rest and keep his energy up.
Over the past couple of seasons, we've seen his productivity decline. In 2011, Fletcher averaged 10.3 tackles per game. In 2012, he averaged just 8.6 tackles per game and he's only averaging 7.6 tackles per game this year. While his intensity is still there, his productivity isn't and his body certainly isn't holding up well.
Fletcher has been in the NFL for 16 seasons and his 38-year old body is starting to show the effect of those 16 grueling seasons. He's played in 252 straight regular season games and it's starting wear him down. He's losing his speed, his stamina isn't what it used to be and it's beginning to hurt the Redskins' defense. Fletcher has missed tackles, messed up on coverages and can't keep up with running backs out of the backfield anymore.
London Fletcher is set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2014 and you've got wonder if he'll seriously consider retirement. While he said in preseason he wasn't serious about his retirement talk, he may have just been saying that so it didn't become a distraction for the team. Fletcher is getting paid $5.5 million this season and while he's made 85 tackles, he certainly isn't worth that price considering Washington is paying their leading tackler, Perry Riley Jr., just $1.323 million this season.
The time is coming for London Fletcher to hang it up. Reports say that on Wednesday we'll learn more about his status for the Redskins' upcoming game against the Chiefs. However, it's time to start thinking about his status for the rest of his career.
Brian Skinnell is a contributor for RantSports.com and Yahoo Sports covering the Washington Redskins, Wizards and NASCAR among others. You can follow him on Twitter, @Brian_Skinnell.
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