Ramon Foster has served as the unquestioned leader of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive line. But the team may have to find someone to fill that void – and oh yeah, the starting left guard spot – in 2016.
Speaking on 93.7 The Fan, Foster said he would like to come back to Pittsburgh but admitted he could test the market if he isn’t satisfied with the Steelers’ offer.
“The thing is that the Steelers have a lot of stuff that they have to take care of, and me being a free agent, that’s an open market opportunity right there,” Foster said.
Foster is one of 20 free agents on Pittsburgh and though he figures to be near the top of the priority list, the money has to be right. He envisions it as one last contract, a last go-around in the league, and the payoff has to justify it.
“This will be my last time around as far as a contract and stuff, so it’s important for it to be done right.”
An undrafted free agent out of Tennessee, Foster has made 87 career regular season starts in Pittsburgh. Once valued for his versatility, he has settled nicely into his left guard spot. The Steelers’ line has reshuffled the deck due to injuries for seemingly forever but Foster has been a constant, starting at least 14 games each year since 2011, including all 18 this past season.
Should Foster sign elsewhere, the team would have an opening at left guard with no obvious player to fill it. They’re clearly high on B.J. Finney, paying him the maximum to be on their practice squad, but it would be quite a jump to assume he could fall into the starting gig. For reasons that aren’t totally clear, the team also loves Chris Hubbard, and he would, theoretically at least, be an option. Cody Wallace is on the table too with the presumed return of Maurkice Pouncey though Wallace’s lack of athleticism as a puller and in pass protection makes him an unappealing option.
As we’ve talked about, losing Foster would disrupt the growth of Alejandro Villanueva. in the event of losing Foster, it may be wise for the team to move David DeCastro from right to left guard to keep a familiar face and voice with Villanueva. It would be easier to plug in a new face on the right side, sandwiched between two veterans in Pouncey and Marcus Gilbert.
Still, it feels unlikely the team will foolishly let Foster go. He wants to return and just wants to be treated justly.
“It’s definitely a home feel there. But, the situation has to be right.”