Washington needs LBs but Reuben Foster doesn't seem part of plan

Reuben Foster

Ron Rivera did not often criticize his football team during the 2020 season, but Washington's coach wasn't shy about wanting better linebacker play. 

"In all honesty, I'm concerned at the play of the linebackers," Rivera said in November

"I think it's a group of guys that are hesitant and still aren't pulling the trigger and letting it go and just getting downhill and making some plays."

It's important to note that these comments came in the middle of the year, before Washington's defense sparked a four-game win streak which included improved linebacker play. But it's also obvious that Rivera wants to improve his defense's middle level, and that will likely come in the draft and in free agency. 

That brings us to Reuben Foster.

Despite never playing a single snap in Burgundy and Gold, plenty of fans believe Foster could be the missing piece for the Washington defense. 

The overwhelming odds are that he isn't.

Foster turns 27 next year, hasn't played since October 2018 and is not under contract for the 2021 season. 

It's a shame that things got here as Foster suffered a massive leg injury during OTAs in the 2019 season, but even when the former Alabama star returned to the field during 2020 training camp, it was clear the athleticism wasn't all the way back.

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Washington put Foster on the injured reserve last year, which shut him down for the season, and it seems unlikely the team will make him a priority between now and when free agency opens in two weeks. 

Maybe there's a scenario where Washington looks at a minimum value contract for Foster, hoping he can return to full health, but considering the reports of nerve damage that emerged on Foster it's no sure thing he ever regains his speed and agility from before the injury.

Remember too that last spring Washington elected not to pick up the fifth-year option on Foster's contract, which generally serves as a major sign a team isn't thinking long-term about the player. 

Bruce Allen claimed Foster off waivers. Rivera didn't. And that was before the injury. 

Expect an overhauled linebacker group in 2021, but it doesn't seem like Foster's in that picture.