The Optimist’s Take – Extending Ramon Foster

While the Pittsburgh Steelers may have gained some tangible evidence of improvement, improving their win total by three games and hosting a playoff game as a division champion for the first time in four seasons, there is no doubt that the team is far from a finished product.

No team, of course, is a finished product in the offseason. Every team loses players to free agency and retirement, and replaces them through the same free agency process, as well as the draft.

With all of the change that occurs during the offseason, it’s often difficult to predict how a particular team might fare. They may wind up holding the Lombardi trophy or the first overall draft pick when all is said and done.

In order to gain a better feel for not only the issues facing the team this year, but how those issues might play out, it’s useful to take the devil’s advocate approach. This is the optimistic side of the coin.

Question: Should the Steelers extend Ramon Foster as he enters the last year of his contract?

At 29 years old, Ramon Foster is easily the oldest member of the Steelers’ offensive line unit—among the starters, that is, as Cody Wallace is 31.

Originally signed by the Steelers as an undrafted free agent, Foster year by year managed to find playing time, starting four games as a rookie due to injuries up front, and eight games in his second season.

While he started 30 of 32 games in the next two seasons, in neither of these was he looked at as the projected starter during the offseason planning. In fact, it wasn’t until after the 2012 season, after the Steelers released Willie Colon and signed him to a modest three-year contract, that the team finally viewed him as a starter.

And he rewarded the organization’s trust significantly, as he made 2013 the best year of his career. He missed one game due to injury, and suffered a bit from it upon returning, but overall, he was the team’s most consistent lineman all season, if not the best overall.

While he did nothing special, per se, he was solid and smart in pass protection, passing off stunts with ease, and did enough in the running game to create space, while largely playing without being penalized too much.

This past season was not as kind to Foster as had been the year before. Despite playing a prominent role in the locker room as a clear leader among the offensive linemen, his play on the field wasn’t quite as inspiring as it once was.

2015 in the last year in Foster’s three-year deal, after which he will be turning 30. But the optimist in me tells me he will be back, as much because he wants to be back as because the team wants him back.

He loves Pittsburgh and his teammates, and will not break the bank to re-sign. I also can’t help but feel that he will bounce back on the field, showing somewhere in the middle of the past two seasons. It’s worth keeping in mind that he got injured early in the year, and that perhaps may have lingered.

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