The Redskins decided not to exercise their fifth-year contract option for linebacker Reuben Foster, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
The news should come as no surprise since Foster has yet to play a single down for Washington since the team claimed him off waivers late in the 2018 season. He was put on the Commissioner's Exempt list for the rest of the 2018 season, and then suffered a major knee injury in May 2019 that left him on injured reserve for the rest of the year.
Acquiring Foster in 2018 brought significant baggage to the organization as the former Alabama star had been cut by the 49ers after repeated arrests for domestic violence. No other NFL team even put a waiver claim in on Foster, and Washington got torched for the move from a public relations standpoint.
Eventually, Foster was cleared of charges stemming from the November arrest and the NFL decided there weren't grounds for a suspension. For a brief time, the Redskins' move to bring in Foster and deal with all the criticism seemed warranted from a football perspective. After all, Foster had the physical tools to be a star linebacker for Washington.
Then, on his first day wearing a Redskins uniform during a meaningless OTA drill, Foster landed wrong and severely injured his knee. He was carted off the practice field, screaming in pain while stunned players, coaches and media watched the scene unfold.
Fast forward to the current situation with Ron Rivera in charge, and it's easy to understand why the Redskins didn't pick up Foster's option, as first reported by The Washington Post.
Claiming Foster was a Bruce Allen project, and a Bruce Allen decision. Rivera has no ties to Foster, which makes this decision easy.
If Foster is able to come back and play this year, then the team could try and work an extension, but the scope of the injury suggests that's not a given.
Late in the 2019 season, a report came out that Foster suffered extensive nerve damage, but the good news was he regained feeling in his foot. "Regained feeling in his foot" and actually playing football seem quite far from one another.
Keep in mind the Redskins are switching to a 4-3 defense, and an early projection would have Cole Holcomb and Thomas Davis as starting outside linebackers with Jon Bostic in the middle of the defense. Josh Harvey-Clemons and Shaun Dion Hamilton are two young players who have dealt with injuries during their time in Washington and were drafted under the previous regime. In addition to Davis, Rivera signed Kevin Pierre-Louis in free agency, which probably puts him ahead of the two younger guys. Washington also signed former Panther Jared Norris earlier this offseason, another linebacker with Rivera ties. The team also drafted Khaleke Hudson last week, a linebacker/hybrid safety.
Rivera was asked about Foster before the draft and his reply seemed to describe the uncertainty of the situation:
"As far as Reuben Foster is concerned, you know, he’s done a great job when he was around, when I was around actually, when I was able to see him. It looked good, it looked like he was working his way back, and, again, the one thing that we’re doing right now is we’re not counting on anybody yet because we haven’t had a chance to watch them, we don’t know."
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