Bradley Fletcher isn’t expected to be an All-Pro with the New England Patriots in 2015. But even after a trying two years with the Philadelphia Eagles, his former coach, Chip Kelly, feels the cornerback will be a consummate pro.
“I love Fletch,” Kelly told reporters during the NFC coaches’ breakfast at the annual league meetings in Arizona on Wednesday. “The ultimate competitor. Works his tail off every single day in practice.”
The 28-year-old Fletcher worked back from two torn ACLs early on in his NFL career with the St. Louis Rams before signing with the Eagles in 2013. He went on to start 27 games in the Philadelphia secondary over that span.
Yet before his missed his final one in December of last season, Kelly shared that the former third-round pick had lost some confidence in himself.
Fletcher intercepted one pass for a touchdown and deflected a league-leading 22 passes in 2014, but he also led the league with 1,072 yards and nine touchdowns allowed, according to Pro Football Focus. The 6-foot, 200-pound Iowa product, in turn, left Philadelphia as an unrestricted free agent in search of a new home.
He found one in New England, agreeing to a one-year deal worth up to $1.5 million this March. And after falling out of favor in the Eagles’ predominant Cover-3 and seeing the Patriots’ press-man starters, Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, fall elsewhere, perhaps that is what both sides needed.
Fletcher now finds himself in a place where he’ll have a chance to compete for a spot below centerfielder Devin McCourty on defense, in addition to a spot kicking game under head coach Bill Belichick.
“He’s a physical player,” added Kelly. “He played really well for us on special teams. They’re going to get a guy that’s a great teammate, will buy into Bill’s system 100 percent. I think very highly of Bradley.”