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The Patriots missed out on Wesley Woodyard over the weekend, as the former Bronco signed a four year deal with Tennessee. The need for depth at linebacker just got bigger with this news.
The #Bucs announce a one-year deal for LB Dane Fletcher, formerly of the #Patriots. It's can be for over $2M, source says.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 16, 2014
Fletcher wasn't a star, but he worked hard and built himself up to being a useful player for New England after switching from playing defensive end in college to inside linebacker in the pros. In addition to being a reliable depth option on defense, Fletcher excelled on special teams. His best moment this season was the Week 12 showdown against Denver, where he gave the team a spark off the bench after subbing in for the struggling Hightower.
In Tampa, Fletcher will have a chance to win a starting job. Mason Foster and Lavonte David are entrenched as two of the starters, but Fletcher will likely be battling with Jonathan Casillas for the other starting spot. He also projects as a core special teamer in Tampa.
Losing Fletcher just goes to further highlight the Pat lack of depth behind projected starters Jerod Mayo, Dont'a Hightower and Jamie Collins. With both Fletcher and Brandon Spikes gone, the Patriots depth is down to guys like Steve Beauharnais, Ja'Gared Davis, and Chris White. Be it through the draft or free agency, the Patriots will have to make a move or two to shore up this area of the team, preferably adding more guys with the athleticism to play on passing downs.