NFC East: Charlie Batch
If you knew nothing else besides Fletcher's age, he would seem an odd fit with a Washington Redskins team that's looking ahead, signing younger free agents on offense, about to entrust its next decade to a rookie quarterback.
But the Redskins know better. They know all of the reasons Fletcher is the worthy exception to their plan to get younger. They know this is a man who has finished in the top seven in the league in tackles for eight straight years, who's in better shape in his late 30s than anyone in the locker room, who has played in 224 games since entering the league without ever missing one.
They know Fletcher is a person and a player who sets the right kinds of examples on the field and off for teammates young and old. Who plays hard on every single play and, without barking or bellowing or calling attention to himself but simply by the mere and apparent fact of his own effort, encourages others to do the same. They know he's a leader to whom other players can go to seek counsel on matters related to football as well as matters related to non-football life.
The Redskins remember this time last year, when the players were locked out and Fletcher was calling teammates, organizing player workouts, scouting high school fields to see if they would hold up well enough or if he'd be putting his men at too great a risk of injury by practicing on them. They remember the stories of how he scribbled down a few of Jim Haslett's 3-4 defense plays on a piece of paper and stuffed it in his back pocket so he could call out specific formations and assignments during those loosely organized workouts.
They know, from having watched it up close, that Fletcher believes in what the coaching staff is trying to do. They have seen him embrace the change from the 4-3 to the 3-4 -- thrive in it personally while he helped teach it and sell it to holdovers and newcomers alike. They believe the development of younger linebackers such as Perry Riley, Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan has something to do with the proximity those players have had to Fletcher in the locker room and on the practice field. Mike Shanahan views Fletcher as an extra coach -- someone who's so in tune with the program and so commands the respect of his teammates that he alleviates some of the responsibilities of the men on the coaching staff. He makes their job easier.
Fletcher matters to the Redskins. He wants to be a Redskin. He has become the captain, the leader and in a lot of ways the face of the franchise. He wants to be in Washington when it pays off -- when all of the lean years end and the Redskins contend again. The Redskins want him around their rookie quarterback -- be it Robert Griffin III or Andrew Luck -- and the young receivers they signed. They want him to help corral all of the new members of their secondary and get the best out of them.
Fletcher is going to be 37 years old next month, and if that's all you were looking at then a two-year deal doesn't make sense. But if you've been watching and experiencing his career with the Redskins, you'd know it was a no-brainer. That's how the Redskins felt, and it's a huge relief to them and their fans that he's back in the fold.
U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson ruled in favor of the players on Monday, ordering an end to the NFL lockout. The NFL, though, will appeal the ruling and there is a lot more that has to take place for football to eventually be played again.
“Today’s ruling is a win for the players and for the fans that want to see a full NFL season in 2011,” Umenyiora said in a statement released from the NFL Players Association, which decertified when talks broke down in March. “The lockout is bad for everyone and players will continue to fight it. We hope that this will bring us one step closer to playing the game we love.”
The NFL released a statement: "We will promptly seek a stay from Judge Nelson pending an expedited appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. We believe that federal law bars injunctions in labor disputes. We are confident that the Eighth Circuit will agree. But we also believe that this dispute will inevitably end with a collective bargaining agreement, which would be in the best interests of players, clubs and fans. We can reach a fair agreement only if we continue negotiations toward that goal."
So what’s next? We know the NFL will appeal but it is unclear what happens in the meantime. There’s no collective bargaining agreement in place so free agency and transactions are on hold. It’s not even clear whether players can go to team facilities before a ruling on the appeal since they were not allowed to do so during the lockout.
Steelers safety Ryan Clark said on ESPN that he was going to tell his teammates to go to the Steelers facility.
"I and Charlie Batch have been texting guys and calling guys immediately, once we heard that the lockout has been lifted, to let them know that the building has to be open tomorrow, let them know that football can continue," Clark said on ESPN. "We are allowed to be around at least until they figure out if the owners can get a stay or not on the lockout being lifted."
"So I am telling guys to go in, I am telling guys to get to work," Clark continued. "So we are excited about being able to get back into the building, to get to work. From our standpoint, we have been telling our guys that the buildings are open, that the judge has made a ruling and until something changes, let's get to work and get this thing started."
DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFLPA, said on ESPN that the players will receive guidance later on Monday night on what to do next now that the lockout has been lifted.
Keep in mind that the Redskins just released backup quarterback Todd Collins, who led Washington to the playoffs in '08. And there's always the Jeff Garcia option, although he's never really fancied himself as a backup. Mark Brunell had a great influence in the Saints' locker room. He's be a good option -- as long as he wasn't called upon to play more than a game or two.
I think you'd feel a lot safer with Collins or Garcia. Then you could try to get Bomar ready for the No. 2 job. Here are some other candidates off the league's official unrestricted free-agent list: Panthers QB Josh McCown, Lions QB Patrick Ramsey, Texans QB Rex Grossman (likely headed to Redskins because of Kyle Shanahan), Dolphins QB Chad Pennington (Hmmm...), Steelers QB Charlie Batch, Rams QB Kyle Boller.
Another possibility is former Bills quarterback J.P. Losman.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
The Dallas Cowboys announced Saturday they have traded starting cornerback Anthony Henry for Lions quarterback Jon Kitna. And who could blame the Lions for doing business with the Cowboys? Based strictly on last season's results, it looks like Detroit fleeced the Cowboys on the Roy Williams deal.
Now the Lions have traded a quarterback who they were about to release for a starting cornerback. I understand that the Cowboys would have had competition for Kitna had he hit the open market, but did they really need to trade a player of Henry's value?
Henry is not even the player the Cowboys have been shopping. That would be safety Roy Williams. Trading Williams for Kitna would have made more sense than giving up Henry. The Lions were probably hoping to land a late-round draft pick, at the most, for Kitna. Now, they have a player who started 16 games for the Cowboys in 2008.
The Cowboys could argue that Kitna's contract is better than Henry's, but there's not a huge difference. Kitna will make about $2 million in 2009 and Henry will make $3.6 milllion. Both players are entering the final year of their deals.
Now that we've established that it's a strange deal, I do think Kitna is a good fit for the Cowboys. Jerry Jones wants Roy Williams to become his No. 1 receiver -- and the wide receiver had his best season as a pro with Kitna in 2006. Kitna is not going to compete with Romo for the starting job, but he's still good enough to pose a threat if Romo starts piling up turnovers.
Of the crop that included quarterbacks such as Kyle Boller, Rex Grossman, Jeff Garcia, Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch, I thought Kitna was the best option. He is three years younger than Garcia and he is a guy who could step in and win some games if Romo gets hurt again. The Cowboys learned a tough lesson about backup quarterbacks in 2008.
Maybe that has something to do with them being a little overzealous in going after Kitna.