Pittsburgh Steelers 2013 Free Agents Analysis: G Ramon Foster – Unrestricted

The Pittsburgh Steelers offseason continues on and we will continue today with our breakdown of the free agents as we inch closer towards the start of free agency. Next up on the list of unrestricted free agents is guard Ramon Foster.

Player: Ramon Foster

Position: Guard

Experience: 4 Years

Free Agent Status: Unrestricted

2012 Salary Cap Hit: $1,260,000

2012 Season Breakdown: Foster was a restricted free agent last offseason and tendered at the right of first refusal level without issues. He signed his one-year tender knowing that he could potentially have to battle for a starting spot on the Steelers offensive line depending on how the 2012 draft went.

The Steelers drafted guard David DeCastro in the first round but the rookie couldn\’t unseat Foster right out of chute. When DeCastro suffered his serious knee injury in the preseason game against the Buffalo Bills it was obvious that Foster would be the starting right guard for most of the season.

While Foster didn\’t play ever snap in 2012, he came pretty damn close. He suffered an eye injury of sorts in the season opener against the Denver Broncos that forced him out of the game, but that would wind up being the only playing time that he would miss all season.

As far as his play went, Foster was Mr. Consistent. You always knew what you were going to get out of him. His pass protection was perhaps the best on the offensive line as he only allowed just a few sacks, quarterback hits and pressures throughout the season. His run blocking, although far from dominant, was mostly acceptable. The merry-go-round at the right tackle spot probably didn\’t help him, but he always seemed to settle in no matter who was beside him.

Foster, when asked to pull, was not always at his best, but there were improvements made in that portion of his game over 2011. There were times when Foster would struggle getting off of his blocks and to the second level when asked, but the Steelers whole offensive line shared in that deficiency for the most part. Because of his lack of mobility and overall athleticism, Foster functioned better in the man blocking scheme more so than he did when the offense would run some zone or put him on the move. The Steelers never really had their offensive linemen on the move much in 2012 and the overall lack of athleticism was likely the reason why they weren\’t.

The biggest improvement made by Foster in 2012 by far was his pass blocking. He handled twist and stunts very well and his punches and reaches were more than acceptable. Foster also showed that he has position flexibility once again as he started the last three games at left guard and even played some right tackle in the season finale after Kelvin Beachum left the game with a concussion.

2012 wasn\’t a Pro Bowl season for Foster, but his play was consistently above the line.

Free Agency Outlook: Foster is now an unrestricted free agent on a team that has salary cap problems to solve before the signing period begins. The Steelers have also hired a new offensive line coach in Jack Bicknell Jr., who is expected to use even more of the zone blocking scheme in 2013.

The Steelers currently have Willie Colon under contract for 2013 and he would be the starting left guard in 2013 if he isn\’t released over the course of the next few weeks. With DeCastro now penciled in at right guard, all five starting spots appear to be spoken for.

Foster will likely get attention in free agency from a team that mostly uses the man blocking scheme. While he will not get big money, the offer that he does get would likely come with the opportunity to start as well. The Steelers will allow Foster to test the free agency waters, but will not have much in a way of a budget to bid against other teams.

Foster has apparently packed up all of his belongings in Pittsburgh and headed back to Tennessee. Perhaps he has already been told that he will not be back in 2013. As it look like right now, he won\’t be. Unless Foster is ignored during the free agency signing period, he has more than likely played his last down in Pittsburgh.

Other 2012 Steelers Free Agent Player Analysis
Charlie Batch – Unrestricted Free Agent
Casey Hampton – Unrestricted Free Agent
Plaxico Burress – Unrestricted Free Agent
Larry Foote – Unrestricted Free Agent
Byron Leftwich – Unrestricted Free Agent
Will Allen – Unrestricted Free Agent
Max Starks – Unrestricted Free Agent
Greg Warren – Unrestricted Free Agent
Leonard Pope – Unrestricted Free Agent
Brandon Johnson – Unrestricted Free Agent
Rashard Mendenhall – Unrestricted Free Agent

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  • steeltown

    Simply insane.. to let your most dependable OLineman walk via FA

    They have to cut Colon.. and Starks wont be back either.. I think they need Foster more than most think.. guy plays on the left side and the right side and can play RT in a pinch

  • Personally, even with a bit of a dropoff when they are at their best, I would prefer keeping Foster to paying Colon to sit on the sidelines or false start again.

  • NW86

    Absolutely…I think the Steelers might not be showing all their cards, not cutting Colon to make it look like they’re not counting on Foster coming back. They’re probably hoping that Foster won’t get a lot of attention from other teams (he’s been solid for Pittsburgh but not outstanding enough to get the attention of many outsiders). If they can get him back in the neighborhood of $2M/year, I think they’ll do that, then cut Colon on June 1 so they can defer his dead money to 2014 and sign their draft picks with that extra cap space in 2013.
    Finally, a free agent worth discussing!

  • steeltown

    I think Foster might take a little more than 2million a year to sign, but frankly I dont care. They can give him a low base salary to save on cap space this year and next.. anythings better than paying Colon $5-6million a year

    I bet they never sign a player to a $30million contract following a season ending injury again

  • Cody Younkin

    he deserves to stay, keep him over Colon and let Foster hash it out with beachum for the starting spot at LG. On a side note, if Beachum got the start, this would be the youngest offesive line since the modern superbowl era, which is pretty awesome seeing the potential of these guys.

  • dgh57

    With the talk of cutting ties with Foster, Starks and Colon (2 of which were the most consistent players) they would be backing themselves into a corner as respects the upcoming draft! That would force them to take a o-lineman early in the draft maybe even a 1st rd pick! I don’t think the Steelers let that happen and they resign Foster even though he may not quite fit the new zone blocking scheme.

  • steeltown

    Completely agree.. I really like Beachum and his potential, but losing Foster and Starks in the same offseason is a bad idea. They would need to draft OTackle fairly early because we would have no depth whatsoever.

  • TheBlitz

    If Warmack falls at 17 I wouldn’t mind if they draft him and let Foster walk out as a free agent. He will be a cheap upgrade!

  • He’s not athletic, and because of that he no longer fits our scheme. A good season for him last year, but I agree he’s probably played his last down for the Steelers. Same with Starks and Colon.

  • SteelSpine

    Good points & I hope your scenerios are right.

  • SteelSpine

    I agree on all that.
    – Colon: I have this bad feeling they’re gonna consider the $4+ mil dead money too much to flush down the drain if cut Colon. The way Rooneys used to typically be regarding money, I cant imagine them flushing $4 mil. I hope my hunch on this is wrong! Reality is it’s waiting for a guy whom when healthy was only an average NFL lineman anyway.
    – Foster: There are teams with a bad offensive tackle on the right side so those teams would rather shop for a cheaper one which they could get in Foster. That could be a big contract offer from somewhere to Foster. Could be $2mil/year, but some teams get nutty throwing much more for a tackle. I expect his agent will therefore shop him around for starting money. But I too hope we find a way to keep him.

  • JohnnyV1

    I agree w/ steeltown, we have to keep guys like this (and Keenan Lewis) and say so-long to those who’s prime has passed, or who can’t stay on the field.