Rackers heads to Redskins

The Sports Xchange
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--Kicker Neil Rackers agreed to a one-year contract with the Redskins. Rackers told the Fox TV affiliate in Houston, "We're headed to Washington. I visited with coach (Mike) Shanahan and (special teams coach) Danny Smith out there yesterday (Monday) and really enjoyed what they had to say. I'll be competing for a job with Graham Gano, who is an established, good kicker.

"We're going to see what happens, but it seems like the best opportunity for me and my family at this point. There's more upside, more opportunity for advancement in Washington."

Rackers set a Houston Texans record with 135 points last season, and said, "I wasn't real excited to leave the Texans. That's a decision they made not us. We've had promises for a while now on a long-term deal and they came to us with a minimum offer. So we just felt like the opportunity for advancement was not in Houston.

"We came in and did the job like they asked us to. Didn't really feel like that was appreciated. I am really excited to go to Washington. Really excited to compete. Really excited to hopefully win a job and be the guy in Washington."

--After a month on the free-agent market, captain/2009-11 Pro Bowl inside linebacker London Fletcher returned to the Redskins on April 13, agreeing to a six-year, $27.25 million contract that he signed three days later as offseason workouts began at Redskins Park. The contract is effectively a two-year, $10.75 million deal. Fletcher, who turns 37 next month but has never missed a game during his 14 seasons, received $3.5 million to sign. His base salary of $1.75 million is guaranteed this year as is $1.5 million of next year's $5.5 million base.

Fletcher's return means that the Redskins have their entire front seven back as well as cornerbacks DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson from a defense that finished 13th in 2011 after coming in 31st the previous season. Fletcher, 2009-10 Pro Bowl outside linebacker Brian Orakpo, left end Adam Carriker and 2010 Pro Bowl pick Hall are the only remaining regulars from the 2011 defense that are still starting.

--The safeties are the only question mark on Washington's defense and another possible starter came aboard when former Buc Tanard Jackson agreed to a one-year, $700,000 deal. Jackson, who'll be 27 in July, started 56 games during his five years in Tampa Bay, the final three of which he played for coach Raheem Morris, now the Redskins' defensive backs coach.

Washington general manager Bruce Allen drafted Jackson in the fourth round for Tampa Bay in 2007.

Jackson's best season was in 2009 when he set career highs with 71 tackles, five interceptions, two forced fumbles and two touchdowns despite missing the first four games after flunking a drug test. He was suspended for a year after Week 2 of 2010 for multiple violations of the NFL's substance abuse policy. If he stays clean in Washington, Jackson could well wind up as the starting free safety alongside fellow newcomer Brandon Meriweather, who made the Pro Bowl with New England in 2009 and 2010 but was cut last summer. Meriweather, 28, spent last season as a part-time starter with Chicago.

Last year's starting free safety, Oshiomogho Atogwe, was released. Strong safety LaRon Landry signed with the New York Jets. Holdovers Reed Doughty and DeJon Gomes, who combined to start 16 games in 2011 because of injuries to Landry and Atogwe, are considered backups.

--Last year's regular quarterback, Rex Grossman, will lose his starting job when the Redskins likely draft Robert Griffin III, but he has vowed to do all he can to help the Heisman Trophy winner adjust to the NFL. John Beck, who'll drop from backup to third-stringer after Griffin's arrival, thinks that the rookie is coming to the right team.

"If I could say anything to RGIII I would say, 'If you have an opportunity to come play for coach Shanahan, you'll be in a great position because he's a great coach and he knows what it takes to be a champion,'" Beck said. "The last couple of years haven't gone as he envisioned, but that hasn't been because of coach. It's been because of circumstances."

QUOTE TO NOTE
"Redskins fans your captain is back! #HTTR (Hail To The Redskins) #Resign59. ... Excited about returning to the Skins! The support I've received from the fans didn't go unnoticed!" -- ILB London Fletcher announcing on Twitter on April 13 that he had fulfilled fans' wishes by agreeing to remain a Redskin.

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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