Home > Uncategorized > Arian Foster released by Texans; will he retire?

Arian Foster released by Texans; will he retire?

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Eric Gay/Associated Press

NFL free agency opens in less than a week, and before teams can add, they have to create financial space through subtraction. The Houston Texans subtracted running back Arian Foster on Thursday morning.

The decision didn’t come as a big surprise. Foster was due to make $6.5 million in salary and count $9 million against the cap next season. In today’s NFL, where a majority of teams have abandoned the “workhorse back” plan, Foster isn’t worth that much. Yes, from 2010-2014, he averaged more yards from scrimmage per contest (121.2) among players who had played in at least 50 games, but that’s ancient history in the NFL. Foster has been injury-prone throughout his career. He hasn’t made it through a 16-game season since 2012 and he’s a soon-to-be 30-year-old RB who is coming off a torn Achilles tendon. 

Cutting Foster was totally expected. Then came the unexpected.

A couple of hours after hearing the news, I heard ESPN’s Bob Ley, host of Outside The Lines, say that the show follow his, NFL Insiders, would have “more on Arian Foster’s retirement.”

D’wut?

Retired? I frantically scoured Twitter to find any such story. There were none to be found. Clearly, Ley had misspoken. 

Or perhaps he was just being prophetic. Would it really be surprising if Foster called it quits sometime during the summer?

Foster has indicated that he plans to continue playing, but given that he is mere months away from turning the big 3-0 and his long history of serious injuries — back surgery in 2013, a torn Achilles in 2015, all of the anti-awesomeness that has repeatedly surrounded his hamstrings since college — the market may not be bullish for his services.

He’ll be available alongside other proven talents who are younger (Lamar Miller, Doug Martin, Chris Ivory) and/or have fewer red flags (Matt Forte, Alfred Morris). Foster may have to accept a low-base, incentive-laden deal from a team which sees him as a complementary piece at this stage of his career.

Would he swallow his pride and agree to such terms? It would be quite a change after Foster was the definition of a “bell cow back” for the first half of this decade. No player took on more touches per game from 2010-15 than Foster (23.44). He also missed 26 games during that span but still racked up the sixth-most total touches (1,641). 

However, Arian Foster is not stupid. I’m sure he knows all of this. I’m sure he’s very aware of how teams will view him on the open market. And if he doesn’t like what he hears, I’m sure he knows that he can walk away comfortably and into one of his other passions — music, poetry, philosophy, acting, etc. According to Sportrac.com, Foster has earned about $37 million through his seven-year career on the field (Of which Foster said he has saved about 80 percent). And as written in Tim Keown’s awesome profile of the man last year, while Arian Foster is in football, he is not of it.

“I take my job seriously, I really do, and I work my ass off for it,” Foster said. “But sometimes I’ll be in meetings and the coach will be up there all stressing out. ‘Rarr-rarr-rarr.’ Veins popping out. I’ll be thinking, ‘This is just a game.’ In the grand scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter that much. It really doesn’t, man, but you can’t admit that — or else.”

Foster is always willing to speak his mind on a number of topics outside of sports. He can talk about politics and religion as much and as well as he can talk about picking up a blitzing linebacker. Foster may not feel like his time in the NFL is up, but he’ll continue only if he wants to, not because he has to. So many other things are waiting for him once he retires, and he’ll be able to find his next lucrative venture(s). Again, I’m sure he knows that.

Maybe Foster will find an NFL gig rather quickly and be happy with this new phase of his professional life. Or maybe Foster, if still unsigned a few months from now as teams fret about his medicals, will say that he’s tired of punishing his body, doesn’t want to deal with the likelihood of more soft-tissue injuries, has proven an undrafted free agent can become the best running back in the game for a time and is ready to try something different.

I’ll admit that it’s not probable, but it is realistic for whom Arian Foster is.

I hope Foster doesn’t leave the NFL because I simply love watching him play. With his high-knees style, I think he is the most graceful back in the NFL. His gait down the field is insanely smooth. His cuts in the hole are magnificent. He seems to glide more than run. While some backs rely on power or speed, Foster doesn’t really have a whole lot of either. He’s much more deceptive. He succeeds with quickness and an amazing ability to find a crease, get to the second level and create from there.

I will miss that once Foster retires. But the NFL will cast him aside and move on without him. I’m sure he knows that he can move on without it.

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