Shanahan 'expects' to have Fletcher back

PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Everybody keeps asking about London Fletcher -- specifically why the Washington Redskins have not yet re-signed the 37-year-old free-agent linebacker who's the heart and soul of their defense. So of course, we asked Redskins coach Mike Shanahan about it this morning.

"All I can say is what I've said from Day 1, that London Fletcher is a priority and we want him back on the football team," Shanahan said. "I can't get into detail. All I can say is that we want him and there are conversations ongoing between agents, and that's part of the process, and we'll let that take its course. But I'm hoping he's part of our organization, and I expect him to be."

This certainly qualifies as the most optimistic thing we've been able to report on Fletcher's possible return to the Redskins since free agency began. And given the slow linebacker market and the lack of information indicating interest in Fletcher from any other teams, it seems likely that he'll eventually return to Washington.

It's possible that the salary-cap penalties imposed against the Redskins as a result of their 2010 contract restructures is part of what's holding up a deal. The Redskins lost $18 million against the cap this year and didn't find that out until the day before free agency started, so it's easy to imagine that their plans have been affected. But I don't think the Redskins have a Plan B if they don't bring Fletcher back, and after talking to Shanahan it does not sound as though they believe they'll need one.