There’s no way of getting around the fact that NFL rosters are cyclical in nature. Every year at a minimum hundreds upon hundreds of new players under the labor market for just 32 NFL teams, each of whom field 63 players per season, plus those on injured reserve.
With hundreds of players drafted every year and just as many if not more coming in as undrafted free agents, it’s inevitable that some of the 2000-plus players with NFL contracts from the season before are going to lose their spots. Some teams see far more turnover than others on a regular basis.
As we get close to the draft, I want to do some risk assessment for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster based on their current needs and how they have handled them in free agency, compared to how they typically go about handling their business in the draft.
Asset: LG Ramon Foster
Roster Vulnerability: Zero
Role Vulnerability: Zero-Low
Let’s be clear at the start that the above assessments pertain to the 2018 season. But this week’s draft could have a much bigger impact on Ramon Foster’s status for 2019. The 32-year-old is entering the final season of a three-year contract that he signed in 2016.
An undrafted free agent back in 2009, Foster is entering his 10th season in the league, half of which he has spent as an uncontested full-time starter. Though he entered the 2012 offseason projected as a backup, he ended up starting the entire year following then-rookie David DeCastro’s knee injury in the preseason, and he has started over 100 games in his career.
That said, there comes a time when you start talking about how much longer a player has left. That usually comes a couple of years into your 30s, and especially when you are working on the final year of your contract.
Foster has been a reliable starter for most of his career, though he has been vulnerable to recurring injuries over the past few seasons and has begun to see a bit of a decline in his play. That doesn’t mean he can’t have a better season in 2018.
Head Coach Mike Tomlin made clear yesterday during the team’s pre-draft press conference that they don’t have any positions off the board, and even specifically mentioned the possibility of an offensive lineman in the first round, though he was using that as an example to make a more general point.
Still, it’s within reason that the best player available is a guard. I think the odds of this happening are relatively low, and even if drafted, he would not be guaranteed to be a day-one starter, but it would certainly reduce the odds of Foster being brought back in 2019, let alone starting.