Even with all the news surrounding Steelers disgruntled receiver Antonio Brown, I was very pleasantly surprised to find out that the team inked veteran left guard Ramon Foster to a new two-year contract on Thursday, a deal that will keep him in Pittsburgh through the 2020 campaign.
That the contract is reportedly worth over $4 million per season is even more surprising, especially for a team that is looking to add pieces in areas other than the unit where it seems to have an abundance of resources: the offensive line.
With B.J. Finney looking primed to assume a starting role after a few years of honing his craft behind the likes of Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro and, of course, Foster—and getting the very best teaching from his old boss, Mike Munchak and his new boss, Shaun Sarrett—saving money by parting with Foster just seemed inevitable.
But I’m glad to be so surprised. I’m glad The Big Ragu is back in the fold and will continue to be a fixture on one of the best offensive lines in football. Fact is, Foster, an undrafted free agent out of Tennessee in 2009, became a mainstay on the offensive line way back in 2011 when he started 14 games.
Speaking of which, Foster’s durability and consistency are highly underrated, as he’s started at least 14 games in every season for the past eight year years. While other, more highly-pedigreed offensive linemen—Marcus Gilbert, Pouncey and DeCastro—have garnered the praise and accolades; while an even bigger underdog with longer odds—Alejandro Villanueva—has provided the sexier story for mass consumption, Foster’s been the anchor of the line, so to speak, a man that’s always there. A calming presence. The ultimate veteran.
It may have been easy for the Steelers to allow Foster, 33, to get on with his life’s work—especially when he was very vocal last season about the team needing to pay him if it wanted to keep him.
Actually, judging by the reported contract details, the Steelers did pay Foster. They obviously value what he brings to his position, as well as what he brings to the locker room as a team leader.
Foster is not only a leader in that locker room, he’s the team’s union rep and someone who isn’t afraid to speak up when he has to.
I’m a huge fan of Foster. The way he conducts himself in the media—and on social media—is what you want to see from your favorite players. I’m actually proud of myself, because for someone who knows jack about offensive lineman technique and measurables, I saw something in Foster early on. Maybe it was that he was able to break through and stick around even while the organization was aggressively trying to improve a unit that once allowed quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to get sacked 46 times or more in four straight seasons.
At any rate, it’s become quite popular in recent years to trash NFL players for their behavior both on and off the field. But the fact is, we only focus on the small minority of players that create negative headlines. As for the vast majority of NFL players, they’re good people who just go about their business and do so in the right way.
Foster is one of the good people. He’s a great teammate. He’s a great player. He’s incredibly consistent on the field, off the field and with the fans and the media.
I’m glad Ramon Foster has decided to be a Pittsburgh Steeler for life.