The Redskins released Mason Foster just one day before the start of training camp, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Washington, and while the move makes sense on the field the timing seems weird.
Let's start with explaining why the move makes sense:
After Reuben Foster blew out his knee during offseason workouts, the team signed veteran linebacker Jon Bostic. In a few weeks, Bostic proved the ability to call plays in the huddle and looked like a strong fit for Washington in their run defense.
With Bostic in the fold, and a slew of younger linebackers on the roster in Shaun Dion Hamilton, Josh Harvey-Clemons and Cole Holcomb, Mason Foster's game became expendable in the eyes of the Redskins front office. After all, Foster had previously been the linebacker to call plays in the huddle and his strength was piling up tackles in the run game.
Add in the fact that releasing Foster clears $4 million in salary cap space, and Bostic counts less than $2 million, and the business side makes sense, too.
Why release Mason Foster now?
The timing on this seems a little odd. The Redskins surely knew that Foster cost more than Bostic a month ago, and they knew about the other young linebackers on the roster. A release after minicamp might have allowed Foster to sign elsewhere already. The good news for Foster is that he won't have to play through training camp in Richmond, and risk injury, before maybe catching on with another team. He can now sign anywhere else.
Looking beyond the immediate impact to Foster, the Redskins could be freeing cap space for a subsequent move. Maybe there's a player available in free agency now that they want to make a run at, or they expect a player to become available.
It's also entirely possible the money from releasing Foster could be used to get more cash to contract holdout Trent Williams or towards a Brandon Scherff extension. Keep in mind, however, that releasing Foster is only about a 2 percent difference on the overall salary cap. His release is not making or breaking any deal.
What's next for Redskins?
Foster was the team's leading tackler last season and in two of the past three seasons. His absence will be missed, but the Washington brain trust must believe that production can be replaced. Expect Bostic and Hamilton to start when training camp opens, and Harvey-Clemons to work as the nickel linebacker. This also could mean a much greater opportunity for the rookie Holcomb.
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