LB Fletcher finalizes deal to return

Patriots linebacker Dane Fletcher, who was scheduled to be a restricted free agent this offseason as he recovers from a torn ACL that sidelined him for the entire 2012 season, has re-signed with the team.

Fletcher, who broke the news on his Twitter account, reacted to it on Thursday afternoon.

“First and foremost, it’s good to know where I will be next year. Now I’m ready to get into shape and get after it in the weight room and on the field, and put a good year together,” he said. “The main thing is that I’m excited to be back with the squad of guys we’ve got, and excited to get back on the field again. I feel very fortunate for everything I’ve been given.”

Fletcher declined to discuss contract terms or his recovery. A source indicated it is a one-year pact, and that Fletcher’s recovery is on a positive course.

“It’s just been a grind, because I’m not the kind of guy who sits back and takes time off,” Fletcher said. “I’ve put in all the positive energy I could. I think the proof will be in the pudding when next year arises and people and all the fans will see how much time I’ve spent in the offseason preparing for this year. I’m putting everything I have in to it, which I feel I owe to myself, my family and Patriots fans.”

Fletcher, who enters his fourth NFL season, has 55 career tackles in 23 games, contributing both on defense and as a core special teams player.

Prior to his injury, he projected to be the team's top reserve at linebacker and potentially a starter in the sub defense alongside Jerod Mayo. He worked with the starting defense early in training camp as Brandon Spikes worked his way through some injury issues and rookie linebacker Dont'a Hightower grew accustomed to the defense.

As a restricted free agent, Fletcher could have been tendered by the Patriots this offseason, which would have opened the door for other teams to sign him to an offer sheet, which the Patriots would have had seven days to match. If the Patriots declined to match the offer, they would have received compensation in the form of a draft pick depending on the level at which Fletcher was tendered.

The Patriots are entitled to negotiate with their own free agents to-be prior to the end of the 2012 league year. The 2013 league year starts on March 12.