Now that the Pittsburgh Steelers’ season is over, it’s about time for the difficult offseason decisions to be made—or at least contemplated. That includes the consideration of not just those players who are preparing to reach unrestricted free agency, but especially in a season with limited cap space, those players under contract for 2020 who may cost more than they’re worth, relative to what the alternatives are.
While there are some players in the latter category who would seem to be no-brainer releases, such as Anthony Chickillo and Mark Barron (especially if they have any hope of retaining Bud Dupree), another player who will be looked at this offseason is veteran offensive lineman Ramon Foster, who just completed his 11th season.
Foster, originally an undrafted free agent out of Tennessee, will turn 34 on January 7. He has signed three new contracts or extensions with the team upon the completion of his rookie deal, most recently in March, a two-year deal worth over $8 million, which was the largest contract he had signed in per-year salary.
After the game, when asked about his future, Foster told Brian Batko, “I know the reality of this. If they’re gonna release me, just tell me while I’m in Tennessee. Don’t wait. That’s all I’d say, don’t waste my time”.
Steelers left guard Ramon Foster said he does wonder if he’ll be brought back for a 12th season: “I know the reality of this. If they’re gonna release me, just tell me while I’m in Tennessee. Don’t wait. That’s all I’d say, don’t waste my time.”
He was laughing, but realistic.
— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) December 30, 2019
The veteran is under contract at a base salary of $4 million for 2020. Due to the signing bonus that he received this season, he will incur a dead money cap charge of nearly $1.6 million, which would be on the books whether he is released or not. So they would save $4 million before displacement if they elect to release him.
Not that that is what he is looking for. In such an event, however, he suggested that he’s not necessarily done playing football. “Right team, right paycheck, anything is possible”, Jacob Klinger quoted him as saying in his postgame comments.
“Right team, right paycheck, anything is possible.” -Ramon Foster, 33, when asked if he’d retire or play for a another team. He’s entering the second year of a backloaded contract.
— Jacob Klinger (@Jacob_Klinger_) December 30, 2019
For his career, Foster has earned roughly $22 million, which is certainly not bad, but far from the massive windfall he has seen his linemates like Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro receive. At the same time, he values his time in Pittsburgh.
Last year, Eric Weddle suggested immediately after the Baltimore Ravens’ season ended that he felt as though he would retire if he were released. He was released, and then he changed his mind, signing with the Los Angeles Rams. It’s hard for professional athletes to let the game go.
Whatever happens, Foster has had a hell of a career.