The NFL's top tackler (with 146 stops) and the Redskins both hope that's not the case, but very few 36-year-old linebackers have ever had so much leverage with their contracts expiring.
"He's playing at a very, very high level," said Redskins coach Mike Shanahan. "You want him on your football team. You want him out there (on the field) as much as you can have him out there and you can't say that about a lot of players as they get older."
Fletcher could well be the missing piece for a true contender, but he sounds pretty committed to the Redskins even though they're 17-37 since winning 15 of their first 24 games after he signed with them as a free agent in 2007.
"I'm extremely frustrated by losing," Fletcher said. "It does wear on you. But the next week is a new challenge. I've learned not to get caught up in last week's loss or last week's win, just play the next game. I love playing here in Washington, believe it or not. Everybody has expressed a desire to bring me back, from the owner to the general manager to the coaches. They know what my desires are.
"It's really up to them. If they want me here, they'll show me. You can't say for sure who's going to be a Super Bowl contender. Did anybody think that San Francisco would be where they are right now? I played on a team in St. Louis that was 4-12 and the next year we were 13-3 and won the Super Bowl. You just don't know."
What the Redskins know is that Fletcher will be in the lineup each week. If he plays against the Vikings and in the New Year's Day finale at Philadelphia, Fletcher will be tied for second among defensive players since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger with 224 consecutive appearances. With 177 consecutive starts, he's 99 ahead of the nearest active linebacker.
"A lot more people get caught up in my age than I do," said Fletcher, who'll be 37 in May. "At the end of the day, I'm going to be judged the same way these 20-somethings are going to be judged. They're not gonna say, 'For a 36-year-old, you're playing well.' I'm just like everybody else. My approach is no different (from) five years ago than it is now.
"First and foremost you do the things necessary to get your body together to be able to practice, to be able to be successful on Sunday, watch film, make sure you're on top of the game plan. You approach each game the same. (But) it means a lot to me to be able to perform at the level I'm performing at and to have done it for so long. I don't take it for granted at all. The way I've been able to get to have the streak is really just (taking it) one game at a time and before you knew it, I had a streak." Shanahan said that Fletcher's passion for the game is critical to his success and is contagious for his younger teammates, which includes everyone except 38-year-old punter Sav Rocca.
Just ask third-year Pro Bowl outside linebacker Brian Orakpo, who was 12 when Fletcher debuted with St. Louis in 1998.
"This guy's all over the place," Orakpo said. "If you're on one side of the field and somebody's missing a tackle and here comes London to clean it up. This guy's still going strong, getting ready for another contract. The guy's playing at a very high level and he's not slowing down. He's getting stronger. I hope he's here until I'm done. The way he plays, I have no excuses out there on the field as far as taking plays off. He makes everybody in that huddle on defense play at a high level. To me, he's consistent. He hasn't dropped off at all since I got here. That's London Fletcher. That's just the standard he sets."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I could care less, man. I love that the fans and players and coaches respect the way I play. But I want to go to the postseason, so bad, man. I've been there, done that with the Pro Bowls." -- OLB Brian Orakpo on whether he cares about being chosen for a third Pro Bowl in his three seasons.