The Tampa Bay Buccaneers extremely busy and productive offseason continues today, as they have signed yet another free agent they have been targeting for a few days now. Buccaneers official site writer Scott Smith reports that the team has signed former New England Patriots linebacker Dane Fletcher, who worked out with the team a few days ago and most recently had a workout with the Oakland Raiders.
Fletcher is a very solid signing for the Buccaneers, and I think he’s one of the most underrated and versatile linebackers in the league today. A top special teams player, Fletcher is an excellent coverage LB and became a fan favorite in New England due to his work ethic and ability to fill that much-needed niche role in the Patriots defense.
The 27-year-old Montana State product missed the entire 2012 season with an ACL tear that he suffered in training camp, but he built on the promise he showed in 2011 by recording 26 tackles and two sacks last season. Ideally a top backup, Fletcher should receive plenty of coverage snaps and is good enough to make an impact on the Bucs defense next season. Not many people know him, but those who have heard of Fletcher know he is a quality role player and a high-end backup LB.
Fletcher’s deal is for just one year, and it’s most likely a very cheap contract. Again, this is another solid signing for Lovie Smith and Jason Licht, who continue to run the table in free agency. It also looks like Fletcher will be more than just a backup, and I could see him winning a starting job if he has a strong camp.