Aug 9, 2012; Foxboro, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots linebacker Dane Fletcher (52) during warm-ups before the game against the New Orleans Saints at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots Free Agent Profile: Dane Fletcher

January 19, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; New England Patriots linebacker Dane Fletcher (52) against the Denver Broncos in the 2013 AFC Championship football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots’ are set up to have a damn good group of linebackers for the next couple of seasons. Dont’a Hightower showed in Jerod Mayo‘s absence last year that he has the ability to step up, and play like a top linebacker in this league. Jamie Collins also emerged as a threat, both in the run game, and in defending the pass. And of course, one of the best linebackers in the game, Jerod Mayo, should return from a chest injury, suffered early in the 2013 season.

That leaves Dane Fletcher on the outside looking in, but in my opinion, he would still be worth re-signing. Aside from Collins, Fletcher was the best coverage linebacker New England had last year, and with the emergence of all the dynamic tight ends in the NFL, having an athletic linebacker is important. Fletcher also showed that he can play the run decently, something that still needs to be done, despite the NFL becoming a pass-happy league.

Assuming the two sides can come to a reasonable price, I definitely think Fletcher will be back in Foxboro for the 2014 season. He provides quality depth behind Mayo, Hightower, and Collins, and as he proved this past year, he can step up,  and produce in a starting role.

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