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Bills sign London Fletcher

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y., March 7 (UPI) -- The Buffalo Bills Thursday signed free agent London Fletcher, a move that came one day after they lost Sam Cowart to the New York Jets.

Terms of Fletcher's deal were not disclosed, but the Buffalo News reported it to be a five-year contract worth $17.125 million, including an astounding $14 million signing bonus.

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The 5-10, 240-pound Fletcher, 26, spent the last four seasons with the St. Louis Rams and had been the defensive leader on a team that has played in two of the last three Super Bowls.

"That's one thing I can bring," he said. "I can bring my experience of winning one championship and playing in a second Super Bowl as well as going to the playoffs the last three years."

Fletcher led the Rams in tackles in each of the last three seasons and set a franchise record with 193 tackles in 2000. He fell just short of that mark with 189.

The deal was contingent on Fletcher passing a physical, which he did Thursday morning, according to Bills general manager Tom Donahoe.

"We will look to him for added leadership, which complements his excellent skills and intensity as a linebacker," Donahoe said.

A former basketball player, Fletcher signed with the Rams as an undrafted rookie out of John Carroll University in 1998. He spent his rookie season playing primarily on special teams, but moved into the starting lineup in 1999 and has not missed a game since.

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