London Fletcher is a Redskin

London Fletcher signed a 5 year 25M dollar deal with 10.5M in signing bonuses (as mentioned by TexSkins in the comments section). Additional details:

He will earn nearly $13 million in the first two seasons of the deal and about $15 million over the first three years.
That means 15M of this contract is paid out in the first 3 years and 10M paid out in the last two. It also means that the first two years likely cost more cap space than any of the other two years on his contract.

I already argued against the Fletcher signing, if only because ILB was less of a need than other positions and because Lemar Marshall was a bargain. Also because I predicted that he'd get paid 6M a year. As it turns out, he's a 5M a year player which is still over 5 times more than we paid Lemar Marshall. I'm skeptical of the utility of replacing a small, 30 year old ILB with a small, 31 year old ILB. London Fletcher is clearly an upgrade, but he doesn't pass the smell test in the bargain department.

With that said, here's what I like:
1. This could have gone horribly, terribly wrong and it didn't. I was biting my nails earlier concerned that the Redskins would sign a 15M bonus and a 7 year deal to Fletcher. I thought it was possible we'd give him 7M a year. So I view the fact that nothing catastrophically bad happened as a plus.
2. I think the signing bonus is high (though, again, not catastrophically so) but I am pleasently surprised with the structure of this contract. I would have predicted a ridiculously backloaded deal where his salary steadily increases to untenable levels. With an ageing player such as Fletcher, that's just stupid. He's not going to be worth 4-5M in base salary in 2012, when he's 36 years old. We know that. The team knows that. Everyone in the world knows that. It would guarantee that the team signed a contract they had no intention of honoring, meaning they were planning for Dead Cap hits -- a strategy I find absolutely ridiculous.

Instead, the Redskins signed a 31 year old LB to a contract that is at least possible to close out. He makes 10M in the last two years of his contract, 4M of that in signing bonuses. That means the remaining two years have 6M in base salary. I have no idea what the salary split is, whether it is 3M and 3M or 4M and 2M or 5M and 1M. In any of those cases, there isn't any reason to think London Fletcher will be incapable of earning the last two years on his contract (and thus necessitating our cutting him). He probably won't be our starter by then, but he might be playing mentor to our future drafted ILB. The most I could honestly predict us paying him overall in 2011 is 5M (2M signing bonus and 3M salary). More likely I think his base salary drops the last two years of his contract, and that is closer to 4M overall (2M signing 2M salary). By 2011 that will not be an unreasonable sum to play a backup LB, especially an experienced veteran who can contribute in other ways, like helping along a gifted young talent learn the defense.
3. By all indications London Fletcher is an upgrade at the ILB position. However you feel about this contract or him as a player, the defense might be immediately better now than it was two nights ago. I'm pleased about that, even if I disagreed with the signing overall (because it wasn't cost effective, in my opinion). Even if you don't accept that London Fletcher is a better ILB than Lemar Marshall, the worst case scenario from purely a field-production standpoint is that this move is a Wash. It isn't like the Adam Archuleta scenario where we let Ryan Clark walk as we invited AA into town; Lemar Marshall is still on this team and should backup Fletcher. If Fletcher's unbreakable body breaks, we'll still have our 2006 starting ILB.

Am I thrilled? Meh, probably not. Rather I'm merely not enormously disappointed. And when it comes to Your Washington Redskins and the offseason, that's good enough for me.

Update [2007-3-3 9:11:40 by Skin Patrol]: The Official Site is calling it. Len Pasquarelli has the details and that's what I'm running with.

Hat Tip: Extreme Skins where the word is that ESPN News just made it official. Will have details soon...

As per usual, PFT has the first word:

A league source tells us that linebacker London Fletcher has agreed to terms with the Washington Redskins. Per the source, it's a five-year, $25 million deal. It pays a $10.5 million signing bonus and pays out $12.5 million over the first two years."
Redskins Insider has the 2nd word:
Just got word from a very good league source that the deal with Fletcher is done.
Taking a short break reader(s), will return in an hour or so (or will try to, I might be going out). The word is that Fletcher is signed to a 4-5 year deal for 22-25M with 6-10.5M in guaranteed money. Given the market, if that were 4 years, 25M, with 10.5M signing bonus (worst possible scenario) I could live. Wouldn't be thrilled with the contract, but I would live.

Will post my thoughts once the details are released either later tonight or tomorrow morning.

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