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
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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