Orakpo: "We've got each others back"
At 38 years old, Redskins linebacker London Fletcher acknowledges that he doesn’t have much time left as a starter in the NFL. But he’s still not sure when the end will arrive.
“You play each game and don’t get caught up in it,” Fletcher said Wednesday, asked if it's possible if the final six games of the season could be his last. “The last probably five, six years I’ve contemplated retirement. Whether [there’s] more contemplation now than there was a year ago, or the year before that, you just always look at it. For me, I always do.”
“There’s different things where you say, man, ‘How am I playing?’” he added. “My stats aren’t great this year, but that don’t mean I’m not playing the way I want to play. It’s just kinda been the way the season has gone for us. I feel good physically. So that’s the thing. I’m not battling injuries and stuff like that.”
Indeed, Fletcher’s stats aren’t what they’ve been in recent seasons. A year ago, he made a team-leading 139 tackles, a career-best five interceptions and notched three sacks. This season, Fletcher is on pace for 110 tackles, which would be his lowest total since 1999. He has yet to record an interception.
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“I’ll evaluate it at the end of the season and see where it go,” Fletcher said, before adding with a laugh, “I don’t have a lot of football left in me.”
“I’ve set such a high standard for myself,” Fletcher added. “I still judge myself by the young kids, the Perry Riley’s, the Luke Kuechly’s. Granted, I know those guys are more athletic than me at this stage of my career, they can run faster than me, their body feels different. But that’s the standard I’m being judged by my coaches and my peers. For me, it’s more about, ‘Am I still wanted? Do I still want to play?’"
When Fletcher contemplated retirement after last season, he was coming off a 10-win season in which he battled ankle, balance and hamstring issues. He ultimately decided to return for a 16th season and fulfill his contract, which pays him $5 million and expires after the season. Fletcher also said he was swayed by the fact that several teammates told him they wanted him to return.
“I know the coaching staff appreciates and values the things I do on the field, off the field,” Fletcher said. “My teammates, when they talked to me after [last] season, they all wanted me to come back. So those things mean a lot. It’s something I took into consideration when I was thinking about [retirement] last year. ‘Do I still feel like I have work to do here?’"
What transpires over the next six weeks, without a doubt, figures to provide Fletcher with the answers to many of those questions.