London Fletcher insists he hasn’t decided whether he’ll return for a 16th NFL season. Mike Shanahan says he doesn’t know, either.
But the Redskins’ coach believes he knows which way Fletcher might be leaning.
“I really don’t know,” Shanahan told Larry Michael on a recent episode of Redskins Nation. “One thing you have to do is, you can’t …you got to have a mindset that there’s no way you’re going to retire. Because if you’re thinking about retirement and you’re not really sure – at least when I look at my previous years, and you look back at guys – if you’re thinking about retiring, you’re probably already retired."
Fletcher, who has played in 240 consecutive regular season games but was hampered in 2012 by balance issues as well as hamstring and ankle injuries, told NFL Network earlier this week that he’s still “evaluating” his future.
“It’s really now about seeing if I can get myself physically ready to play at the level that I would like to play,” Fletcher, 37, said. “Some guys talk about [how] they’ll play ‘until the wheels fall off.’ I have zero desire to that.”
Since the end of the season, Fletcher has done in-studio analysis for ESPN and NFL Network, perhaps hinting at a looming career change for the veteran linebacker.
Fletcher's decision, Shanahan said, will have a significant impact on the Redskins’ offseason given the team’s difficult salary cap situation.
“London is the type of guy that… you don’t even want to ask him [the] question,” Shanahan said. “Because his mindset, he’s warrior, how hard he’s played, what’s he’s done for this organization. But all those things, you’ve got to have a game plan for it. If he does come back, if he doesn’t come back, you’re taking a look at your financial responsibilities for the cap. If you do have the [$18 million penalty] that we may take, or some of the hit, you just don’t know. So we have to game plan for all scenarios, but you’re always hoping that your great players keep on playing at high level.”