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LB Dane Fletcher Re-Signs

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The third-year linebacker out of Montana State breaks the news on Twitter, avoids free agency and returns to the Patriots on a one-year deal.

Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE

A torn ACL turned a promising 2012 into a season to forget for Dane Fletcher, but he announced this afternoon via Twitter that he has chosen to re-sign with the New England Patriots and will return in 2013:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Officially a New England Patriot again for next season! <a href="https://twitter.com/search/%23PatsNation">#PatsNation</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/search/%2352isBACK">#52isBACK</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/search/%23SALUTE">#SALUTE</a></p>&mdash; Dane Fletcher (@Dane_Fletcher) <a href="https://twitter.com/Dane_Fletcher/status/297061471211356160">January 31, 2013</a></blockquote>

Fletcher enters his fourth season after going undrafted in the 2010 NFL Draft. Quickly signed by the Patriots following the draft, Fletcher became one of only two undrafted rookies to make the Patriots' opening day roster that season. Fletcher has 55 all-purpose tackles in 23 career games and became a top reserve player for the linebacking corps, flashing above-average coverage abilities and carving out a niche for himself in the Patriots' special teams unit.

The Patriots are clearly intrigued by Fletcher's potential as they completely avoided restricted free agency. As a restricted free agent, other teams are given an opportunity to court the player with the originating team allowed to match the offer on the table. If they don't match, the player is awarded to the highest-bidding team and the Patriots receive compensation in the form of a draft pick for whichever level the player is tendered at. They wouldn't have received much for Fletcher if that avenue was explored, but clear intentions in making Fletcher an integral part of the team's plans in 2013 avoids a much more complicated process.

Fletcher also helps shore up depth at the linebacker position as both OLB Tracy White and MLB Niko Koutouvides are unrestricted free agents.