To be completely honest, I figured that Offensive Guard Ramon Foster was as good as gone when the 2012 regular season ended.
Offensive Linemen with starting experience and versatility usually command high price-tags in Free Agency. Thus, I figured that the cap-strapped Steelers would be unable to afford a player like Foster who could have commanded an expensive pay-day on the open market. Thankfully though, Pittsburgh’s brass have reportedly re-upped the 27 year-old to a 3-year deal to keep him in town through the 2015 season.
To his credit, the former 2009 UDFA has been a steady and effective presence along Pittsburgh’s Offensive Line since his Rookie season. While he has not been flashy or as outstanding as Maurkice Pouncey, Foster has nevertheless improved his play over his 4-year career (57 Total Games). In fact, Ramon only allowed 2.0 Sacks over the entire 2012 regular season according to Pro Football Focus (via ESPN).
Overall, Foster has logged 42 career Starts, and performed in a multitude of different positions for the Steelers. Not only has the former Tennessee Volunteer received extended playing time at Right Guard and Left Guard, he has also chipped in at Right Tackle on occasion. Last season, Foster started every game for Pittsburgh at either Right (13 Games) or Left (13 Games) Guard, and seemed to only get better as the season progressed.
So what does Foster’s new deal ultimately mean for the Steelers? Here are a few events which I believe could possibly unfold over the coming months:
- 2012 7th Round Pick Kelvin Beachum is all but pegged to continue his role as a “super-sub” this Fall. Another season as the “Swing” Guard/Tackle will allow the versatile Beachum more time to develop into a potential starter at either position, and at the very least contribute if injuries or ineffective play occur.
- Veteran Willie Colon is all but done with the Steelers unless he takes a massive pay-cut. Colon is set to receive a large Base Salary ($5.5 million) this year, and it has not helped that he has missed 35 regular season games since the 2010 season. Pittsburgh is trying to get younger and cheaper on all fronts right now. Thus, the soon-to-be 30 year-old Colon might not be in the team’s long-term plans.
- The farfetched idea that Pittsburgh’s brass would select Jonathan Cooper or Chance Warmack in Round 1 of this year’s Draft is basically “out the window.” Had Foster left, I could have certainly seen Pittsburgh considering one of these talented Guard prospects with the 17th overall selection. Yet with Foster signed long-term, I am sure that the Steelers will look in another direction in Round 1.
- Veteran backup Guard/Center Doug Legursky, also a UFA, could be in danger of being either released or set to test the open market. “Leggo” made $1.26 million last year, and teams around the League always value positional versatility. If Legursky is allowed to test the Free Agent waters, Pittsburgh might not be able to match another franchise’s offer.
During this crucial offseason period, I believe that Foster’s 3 year-deal was a solid move made by Pittsburgh’s Front Office members. The Steelers need stability along their young Offensive Line, and it would be nice for the unit to gel quickly as Ben Roethlisberger enters the twilight of his career. While the financial details of Foster’s contract have not been disclosed, this move is great for both sides.
From Management’s perspective, they are able to retain a versatile and veteran Offensive Lineman who has played effectively at multiple positions for the franchise. On the other side, the deal is beneficial to Foster because he will not only get a chance to lock down a starting job, but will be able to do so in a familiar setting on the team he has played for his entire career. Furthermore, due to the fact that the contract only runs through the 2015 season, Ramon should get to test the Free Agent market again when he is only 30 years of age.
While the re-upping of Foster was not a particularly flashy move, I must give Pittsburgh’s brass credit for making a smart choice to help to shore up their team’s Offensive Line.
Players Contract Info. Provided By: Spotrac.com