Now that the 2018 NFL Draft is in the books, and the roster heading into the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we head toward training camp.
Player: Ramon Foster
Stock Value: Up
Evaluation Type: Major, Long-Term
Reason: Injury Report
From where we were a day ago, Ramon Foster is certainly in a better position than we thought he could be. The veteran lineman suffered a right knee injury during practice on Friday that looked serious, but he received good news yesterday about the extent of the damage.
Most importantly, it was revealed that he would not require surgery. In fact, the team is optimistic that he won’t even miss any regular season games, though he will be out several weeks, surely missing the rest of training camp with a sprained MCL and a bone bruise, similar to what Ben Roethlisberger had two years ago.
Not to get too ominous, but had he suffered a season-ending injury, it’s possible that he would have played his last snap, if not in the NFL, then for the Steelers. Foster is 32 and entering the final season of his contract. And he would be forfeiting a tryout season for B.J. Finney to take over his job.
Not that there wouldn’t be a place for him on the team next year no matter how well Finney played, but as an older veteran who has never had elite-level recognition such as the two players to his right along the offensive line, you never want to show any signs of slipping.
In the immediate term, we at least know that he is going to come back and play this year, and that is big not just because he is a quality starter (he was a Pro Bowl alternate last season), but also because it boosts the depth that has already taken some blows this offseason.
Around this time yesterday, we were wondering whether or not Foster would even have a 2018 season. And who knows what that could have potentially meant for 2019 and beyond. And of course just for his long-term health as a private citizen.
Now we know that he’ll be okay, and may not even miss a game. That is a huge momentum swing from where we could have been. The starting five along the offensive line will remain intact, one of the top groups in all of the NFL.