Rapoport: Former 1st Round Pick LB Reuben Foster Signing With USFL Pittsburgh Maulers

The Pittsburgh Steelers like their pedigree guys. Evidently, so do the USFL Pittsburgh Maulers. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, former first round pick linebacker Reuben Foster is attempting a football comeback, signing with the USFL Maulers to play in the upcoming 2023 season.

Foster starred at Alabama. With size and athleticism, he recorded 115 tackles in 2016, his senior year with the Crimson Tide, recording 13 tackles for a loss and five sacks. He parlayed that into becoming the 31st pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, selected by the San Francisco 49ers, starting ten games his rookie year and finishing third in Rookie of the Year voting.

But his career has been marred by injury and legal problems. It began even before his NFL career took off. He was infamously sent home from the 2017 NFL Combine after reportedly yelling at one of the medical staffers. He also failed the drug test, though it was later proven to be due to a diluted urine sample.

He was suspended two games in the summer of 2018 for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. He returned to the field and played in six games before he was arrested on domestic violence charges that November. Here’s what police said at the time, via ESPN.

“According to a statement released by Tampa police, Foster and a 28-year-old woman were involved in a verbal altercation Saturday night. The woman told police that during the altercation, Foster “slapped her phone out of her hand, pushed her in the chest area and slapped her with an open hand on the right side of her face,” the statement said. Police said a 1-inch scratch was observed on the woman’s left collarbone.”

The 49ers quickly waived him and he was claimed by Washington, a move that was understandably met with plenty of criticism. The league placed him on the Commissioner’s Suspended list until that was lifted in 2019. He returned to the practice field that May but suffered a torn ACL and LCL in his very first practice back and missed the entire season. He entered 2020 on the team’s PUP list but got cleared during the summer though by September, he was back on IR due to his lingering knee injury.

His last NFL action came last April when he worked out for the Miami Dolphins. The team didn’t sign him. Now, he’s trying to get back into football through the USFL, which will kickoff on April 15th. He’ll join the Maulers, the league’s worst team a year ago, a team attempting to repair its image literally by switching to a black and gold color scheme. The Maulers have a new head coach in Ray Horton, hired to replace the departed Kirby Wilson. Horton spent 2019 with Foster in Washington though given the suspension, it’s not entirely clear how much interaction the two had.

Foster’s calculation is likely to get on the football field this spring, show he’s healthy, and try to earn an invite to a NFL training camp. When the season kicks off, we’ll write weekly recaps on the Maulers’ season (playing in Canton, Ohio this year as opposed to Birmingham) and let you know how Foster is doing.

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