Whether or not the fans do, the Pittsburgh Steelers roster still believes in the talent gathered in the locker room, and believes that it is capable of winning a championship. That is what veteran guard Ramon Foster said after the game, as he finds himself in arguably the most curious position in his career.
Having completed his 10th NFL season and soon to turn 33 years old, Foster, a former college free agent, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career. He has previously signed two three-year contracts with the Steelers, but on both occasions, he did so just before free agency officially began.
Foster took very team-friendly deals but was pretty clear in speaking on the subject this offseason that it was his intention not to make that same decision again. No matter where he ends up playing in 2019, he is going to get paid. He watched every single other one of the starting linemen around him get paid, even by other teams. It’s beyond due his turn.
It is in part because of that reason that he placed so much emphasis on doing everything in his power to help the Steelers win a championship this season. Not because he thinks their window is closing, but because he knows it may be his last year in Pittsburgh. But whether he remains here or not, he knows the city is the same.
“Here in this city, it is all about winning and winning championships when you have the chance to”, he said. “We haven’t. I wanted a ring and that’s still my ambition and the city deserves it. There’s still too much talent; you have a Hall of Fame quarterback. Look at it. What kind of changes do they want?”.
— Chase Williams WPXI (@chasepwilliams) December 31, 2018
There was a time that Foster would watch his teammates turn down deals to stay in Pittsburgh because some other team would offer them a few million more out of a number that is already higher than a normal person would be able to use. He would say that after a certain point, it doesn’t matter how much you make.
But now he knows that he probably has just one last chance to get paid, and to get paid as he never has before. He has never had a cap hit higher than $3.6 million and has made under $20 million over the past decade, a low number for a player who has started over 100 games.
Do the Steelers believe enough in either B.J. Finney or Matt Feiler to take over as the full-time starting left guard? Would they release Marcus Gilbert and give Foster a late-career windfall instead with the savings?
As much as Foster is committed to finally getting paid as the market dictates, I’m sure his ideal scenario would involve his paycheck coming in Pittsburgh. You see it in the way he talks. He just can’t help it. Even if he finishes his career in another city, he’ll always be a Burgher for the decade he spent here and the dedication he showed to the team and to the city.