Dane Fletcher

Dane Fletcher Plans To Retire

4:32pm: New England officially released Fletcher with a failed physical designation, ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss reports (on Twitter).

4:16pm: Former Patriots and Buccaneers linebacker Dane Fletcher plans to retire, Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald tweets.

Fletcher, who did not play in a game last season, plans to open a gym in Montana, according to Howe.

Last May, Fletcher agreed to re-sign with the Patriots after spending the 2014 season with the Bucs. But the career reserve who started 10 games in five seasons did not suit up for the Pats in 2015. Fletcher tore his ACL in Tampa Bay’s final regular-season game in 2014 and his mom reportedly talked him out of retirement last spring, when he signed a one-year deal to return to the Pats.

The 29-year-old Fletcher opened last season on the PUP list but served as a key special teams player in New England from 2010-13 after catching on with the Patriots initially as a UDFA.

Fletcher made five starts for the AFC champion Pats in 2011 and four with the Bucs in ’14.

AFC East Notes: Dolphins, Payton, Pats

After losing Julian Edelman for several weeks, the Patriots appear to have dodged a bullet with fellow receiver Danny Amendola. Tom E. Curran of CSNNE.com writes that Amendola has a knee sprain that will limit his ability to practice this week, but he’s not expected to miss much action, and could play in Week 12 vs. the Broncos. The same can’t be said for Aaron Dobson, who is expected to miss that Denver game, and perhaps more than that, so the Pats will be hoping for a quick recovery from Amendola.

Here’s more from around the AFC East:

  • There will be a wide field of worthy candidates for the Dolphins to consider when they search for a permanent head coach this winter, but “none look as attractive or experienced” as Sean Payton, according to Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports, who says Dolphins owner Stephen Ross needs to go hard after the Saints’ head coach.
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick is the best option right now for a Jets organization that has been searching for a strong young quarterback for years, Manish Mehta of the Daily News writes. Fitzpatrick might be flawed, but he gives Gang Green the best chance to make the postseason. Geno Smith, he feels, is is a far inferior option.
  • The Patriots opted to keep defensive tackle Chris Jones and linebacker Dane Fletcher on the PUP list rather than activating them, as Rich Garven of The Providence Journal writes. The two veterans both seem to be healthy, but the Pats just couldn’t carve out space for them.
  • The Dolphins worked out defensive backs Dax Swanson, Brandon McGee, Dewey McDonald, and Jeremy Harris, Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle tweets.

AFC Notes: D. Brown, Pats, Whisenhunt

Chargers running back Donald Brown had been viewed as a potential trade candidate heading into this week, and according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link), teams had been calling about the veteran back. However, with Branden Oliver nursing an injury, Brown figures to remain in San Diego, per Rapoport.

Here are a few more items from around the AFC, with the trade deadline just hours away:

  • The Patriots are welcoming back two players – linebacker Dane Fletcher and defensive tackle Chris Jones – to practice today after they spent the first eight weeks of the season on the PUP list, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com (Twitter links). New England will now have three weeks to either activate Fletcher and Jones or to rule them out for the rest of the season. The Pats had a league-high three players on PUP to start the year, with Fletcher and Jones joining wideout Brandon LaFell.
  • While most reports have pegged the value of Ken Whisenhunt‘s five-year contract with the Titans at $5MM annually, ESPN’s Ed Werder tweets that it’s actually worth closer to $30MM, or $6MM per year. Tennessee parted ways with Whisenhunt today despite the fact that he had more than three years remaining on that deal, so the club still owes him a significant chunk of money.
  • Although Le’Veon Bell‘s knee injury has ended his 2015 season, his ACL remains intact, and Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said today that his running back should be ready for the start of the 2016 campaign (Twitter link via Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review).
  • Dolphins rookie running back Jay Ajayi is hoping to be activated this week after spending eight weeks on IR with the designation to return, as James Walker of ESPN.com writes.

PUP, NFI Players Soon Eligible To Practice

Week 6 of the NFL season will come to an end after Monday night’s game between the Giants and Eagles, and when teams begin preparing for Week 7, many clubs could be welcoming injured players back to practice. Six weeks into the NFL season, players who were placed on the physically unable to perform list or the non-football injury list prior to Week 1’s games will be eligible to return to the practice field.

Of course, just because those players are able to return to practice doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be healthy enough to do so. Players on the PUP list have a five-week window to begin practicing. Once they return to practice, they have three weeks to be added to their respective teams’ active rosters. In other words, a player currently on the PUP list could return to the field for his team’s Week 7 game, or could return as late as for his team’s Week 15 contest.

The rules for NFI players are similar to those for PUP players. If a player on either reserve list doesn’t return to practice or game action in time, his 2015 season will officially be over.

Here are the players currently on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list who can begin practicing as soon as this Tuesday:

And here are the players currently on their teams’ non-football injury or illness lists, who are also eligible to begin practicing this Tuesday:

  • Arizona Cardinals: WR Damond Powell
  • Buffalo Bills: CB Leodis McKelvin
  • Cincinnati Bengals: T Cedric Ogbuehi
  • Cleveland Browns: DB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, TE Randall Telfer, RB Glenn Winston
  • Dallas Cowboys: LB Mark Nzeocha
  • Houston Texans: T David Quessenberry
  • Kansas City Chiefs: QB Tyler Bray
  • San Francisco 49ers: WR DeAndre Smelter
  • Seattle Seahawks: DT Jesse Williams

In addition to monitoring players on the PUP and NFI lists, it’s worth keeping an eye on players who have been placed on the injured reserve list with the designation to return. Teams can use this IR-DTR spot on one player per season, placing him on the injured reserve list without necessarily ruling him out for the season. As we explained in an earlier post, players given this designation can begin practicing after six weeks and can return after eight weeks.

That means that a player who was placed on IR-DTR prior to Week 1 can begin practicing on Tuesday, though he won’t be eligible to return to game action until Week 9. A player who was placed on IR-DTR after Week 1 will have to wait until next Tuesday – October 27 – to return to practice, while other IR-DTR players will have to wait until November to practice.

Here’s the list of players currently on IR-DTR who can begin practicing as soon as Tuesday:

Patriots Claim DaVaris Daniels Off Waivers

The Patriots announced several roster moves to get down to the 75-man limit today, including one addition to the roster. Here’s the full list:

Claimed off waivers:

  • DaVaris Daniels, WR (waived by Vikings)


  • Chris Barker, G
  • D.J. Lynch, LB

Placed on IR:

  • James Develin, FB
  • Darryl Roberts, CB

PUP list:

  • Dane Fletcher, LB
  • Chris Jones, DT

East Notes: Hardy, Scandrick, Fletcher, Jets

While we won’t find out immediately whether or not arbitrator Harold Henderson will decide to uphold Greg Hardy‘s 10-game suspension, Hardy’s camp and the NFLPA were scheduled to make their case on behalf of the Cowboys defensive end this morning. Here’s the latest on that appeal, along with a few other items from out of the NFL’s two East divisions:

  • Examining Hardy’s appeal, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk lays out the specific arguments he expects Jeffrey Kessler and the union to make in Hardy’s defense. Meanwhile, former NFL executive Andrew Brandt of TheMMQB.com writes that he expects the suspension for the Cowboys defensive end to ultimately be reduced to six games.
  • Orlando Scandrick‘s new deal with the Cowboys ensures that he’ll earn $4MM this year rather than $1.5MM, but it only increases his 2015 cap number by $100K, tweets Joel Corry of CBSSports.com.
  • Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com (Twitter link) has the details on Dane Fletcher‘s new one-year deal with the Patriots, reporting that the linebacker gets a $20K signing bonus and a $60K roster bonus on his minimum salary benefit contract.
  • Veteran guard Willie Colon told Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com on Wednesday that he feels a greater sense of urgency in the Jets‘ locker room under Todd Bowles than he did last year under Rex Ryan. “You kind of feel like if you don’t fit the mold of what Bowles wants, it’ll be hard for you to survive,” Colon said.

Patriots To Sign Dane Fletcher

The Patriots are bringing back a familiar face, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, who reports (via Twitter) that linebacker Dane Fletcher is signing a one-year contract to return to New England. Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com first noted (via Twitter) that Fletcher was in attendance for the start of the team’s OTAs today.

Fletcher, 28, spent four years with the Pats before signing with the Buccaneers as a free agent a year ago. Appearing in all 16 games for Tampa Bay, Fletcher recorded 41 tackles and 0.5 sacks in 2014. While the linebacker logged 358 defensive snaps, he also contributed significantly on special teams, racking up 11 of his tackles in kick and punt coverage.

Reiss reported earlier this month, after Fletcher paid a visit to the Patriots, that there was a “good chance” the former Buc would end up signing with New England. By waiting until after May 12 to complete a deal, the Pats will ensure that Fletcher doesn’t count against their compensatory draft pick formula for 2016.

Extra Points: Collins, Fletcher, Jets

How busy is commissioner Roger Goodell? So busy that LSU coach Les Miles couldn’t get through when he tried to call and vouch for La’el Collins, as Jim Kleinpeter of The Times-Picayune writes. “Why wouldn’t that (supplemental draft) be what it’s for. Explain to me why that’s not perfect for this (situation). Some guys would have passed and some said yeah. He (Collins) would have gotten his spot,” Miles said. “This is a guy who is still going to make money, long term. I’d like to see an adjustment made now.” Ultimately, Collins did not get into the supplemental draft, but he has found a home with the Cowboys. Here’s more from around the NFL..

  • There’s nothing official yet, but there’s a “good chance” that Patriots will sign linebacker Dane Fletcher, Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com tweets. The Pats have been seeking guys with experience to give depth to the linebacker position.
  • Some wondered aloud if the Colts were taking T.Y. Hilton‘s eventual replacement when they selected Phillip Dorsett out of Miami. The choice came as a surprise to some, but not to Hilton himself, Zak Keefer of the Indy Star writes. “There’s nothing I can do about that. That’s who they picked. That’s cool with me…Nothing in this league should surprise anybody,” said Hilton, who is entering the final year of his rookie deal. “(It was) a pick that they thought we needed, so I guess that’s what we needed to help this team.”
  • Dom Green, who was recently let go as the Chiefs’ assistant college scouting director, is up for a job with the Jets‘ personnel department, according to Alex Marvez of FOX Sports (on Twitter).

Patriots Notes: Brady, Fletcher, DeflateGate

Tom Brady‘s legacy will forever be scarred by the damning Ted Wells report, Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report opines. When the scandal first broke, Brady asserted that he “didn’t alter the ball in any way” and had “no knowledge of wrongdoing.” However, the Wells Report says that it’s “more probable than not” that he was at least generally aware of air being released from the game balls. Now, the question is, what penalties will be levied against the Patriots and which individuals will be taking the hit. The latest from New England..

  • Free agent linebacker Dane Fletcher, who played for the Patriots from 2010-2013 and was with Buccaneers last year, visited New England today, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Fletcher, 29 in September, played in all 16 games (four starts) for the Bucs last season, notching 41 total tackles and 0.5 sacks.
  • At this point, it’s more likely the league sanctions the Patriots organization for the DeflateGate scandal than coach Bill Belichick himself, Albert Breer of NFL.com tweets. The league will look at discipline for Belichick, but the evidence in the Wells Report makes it look less likely (link). Still, Breer (link) cautions that everything is fluid and things can change.
  • The Patriots might not be hammered much harder than the Browns and Falcons were for their infractions last year, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes. The Browns were fined but lost no picks for their in-game texting. The Falcons, meanwhile, paid a fine and forfeited a 2016 fifth-round pick for their artificial crowd noise.
  • The report found no evidence to corroborate a story from ESPN earlier this year asserting that the Pats attempted to put a kicking ball (“k-ball”) into live game action, Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk notes.

NFC Notes: Hester, Urlacher, Sproles

In an interview with WFAN’s Boomer & Carton show, Lions tailback Reggie Bush said that embattled Vikings running back Adrian Peterson should be allowed to play football, writes NFL.com’s Marc Sessler. “Adrian Peterson, I’ve known for a while, and he’s a good guy,” Bush said. “... I don’t know all the details of the situation what happened, but I know me and like a lot of other guys who were born in the ’80s, and even before then, were raised differently and disciplined differently. And I was one of those kids. I got what we called ‘whoopings,’ whooped with belts and stuff like that. For me, growing up, it was normal. And not to say, not to try to downplay the situation at all, I think that this is genuine, and obviously, I’m sure there’s no ill intent against his own son.” More from the NFC..

  • Coach Lovie Smith definitely wanted Devin Hester in Tampa but the money situation simply didn’t work out in the Bucs‘ favor, tweets Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The former Bears standout wound up signing with the Falcons this offseason.
  • Former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher resigned his job as a broadcaster job at FOX Sports 1 Tuesday and the Bucs have an injury to starting middle linebacker Mason Foster. Some may be wondering if Urlacher would be a fit for Tampa Bay but if it does happen, it won’t be this week, writes Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. The Bucs plan to go with backup middle linebacker Dane Fletcher in Thursday night’s game at Atlanta.
  • Former Eagles president Joe Banner tweeted that he tried to sign Darren Sproles when he a free agent after his time with the Chargers. However, the speedy tailback badly wanted to reunite with Drew Brees in New Orleans and wound up with the Saints. Sproles’ presence in Philadelphia years earlier might have made a big difference for the team, Banner writes.
  • Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap gives his thoughts on Robert Quinn‘s extension with the Rams. The contract is similar to what Fitzgerald envisioned for J.J. Watt initially – it underpays him for his production, but it gives him a window for another mega-contract in just a few years. Quinn also gets a decent guarantee package from St. Louis.
  • The Peterson case shows a lack of leadership on the NFL’s part, writes Tom Powers of the Pioneer Press. The Vikings said they’ll let things play out in court for the running back but Powers notes that defensive back Chris Cook, cornerback A.J. Jefferson, and running back Caleb King were never given the same benefit of the doubt when they were in hot water.