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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Now non-stop to Tampa, Pats' LB Fletcher



Linebacker Dane Fletcher checked his voice mail at the Salt Lake City airport while waiting for a flight connection to Oakland to visit the Raiders.

Now he is non-stop to Tampa.

The Bucs reached an agreement with Fletcher, the Patriots free agent, on a one-year deal Sunday afternoon.

Fletcher is the ninth free agent to join the Bucs since the signing period began last Tuesday. Fletcher visited the Bucs a day later but no agreement was reached and he was en route to Oakland via Salt Lake City when an accord was struck through his agent.

In addition to being an outstanding special teams player, the 6-foot-2, 245-pound Fletcher is versatile and will compete for a starting job at strong side linebacker.

Fletcher was an undrafted free agent who signed with the Patriots in 2010. He overcame some long odds to make it, switching from the defensive end position he played at Montana State to linebacker in the NFL.

An ACL injury sidelined Fletcher for the entire 2012 season but Patriots coach Bill Belichick praised him from coming back strong in 2013. He led the Patriots in special-teams tackles last season (15) and played 18 percent of the defensive snaps, mostly on passing downs.

[Last modified: Sunday, March 16, 2014 4:05pm]


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