The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season ended a few weeks earlier that they had planned it to, but now that their 2015 campaign has drawn to a conclusion, it’s time to wrap things up and take stock of where they are and how they got there. Part of that process involves holding player exit meetings at the conclusion of each season.
Of course, we’re not privy to the specifics that go on in each of these meetings between head coach and player, and whomever else might be involved in any particular discussion, but if we were conducting them, it might go something like this.
Player: Ramon Foster
Position: Left Guard
Experience: 7 Years
Ramon Foster is now on the wrong side of 30, having come off a very encouraging bounce-back season, and is also set to hit free agency after completing a three-year contract that he signed for a modest amount, at the beginning of which he was just finally being viewed as a starter.
In other words, as we have recapped for you earlier this week, the market value of Foster is not readily obvious to determine, especially considering the fact that he and the Steelers agreed to that contract before he actually hit free agency the last time. It seems unlikely that he would be willing to do that again, and I wouldn’t blame him.
A former undrafted free agent originally signed by the Steelers in 2009, Foster has consistently found his way into the starting lineup. Even after the Steelers drafted David DeCastro to replace him at right guard, circumstances—namely, injury—saw him back in the lineup, starting the first 13 games of the 2012 season at right guard, and the last three at left guard, where he has played since.
It has been in the past three seasons, during which he was actually viewed during the team-building offseason process as a starter, that Foster has bloomed the most, putting together his best professional seasons in 2013 and 2015—coincidentally, during both of which the line was without Maurkice Pouncey at center. I stress that this is a coincidence.
Foster had a trying and turbulent year in 2014 off the field after he lost his mother before the season. An early ankle injury that caused him to miss two starts then continued to hamper him for the rest of the year, prompting concerns about his future.
But 2015 proved to be a refreshing return to form for the highly underrated lineman who seems continually to be pushed one foot out the door for one reason or another. What he may lack in standout physical traits as a lineman he more than makes up for with intelligence and consistency.
If this is the last season in Pittsburgh for one of the most gregarious men in the locker room, then I can only imagine that the team will be lesser for it, a statement that will be equally true on and off the field. DeCastro will have to step into and fill some of the leadership void that he would leave, all while the Steelers adjust to another offensive line tweak.