It’s fun to imagine your favorite team landing big-name free agent, but the reality is often less glamorous. From an organizational perspective, the player has to fit the team’s needs. Though the four-time Pro Bowler will attract plenty of suitors, Arian Foster makes no sense for the Redskins. Washington’s backfield is simply in no position to take on the kind of injury liability that Foster carries with him.
This is not to say that Foster is a universally ill-advised, free agent acquisition. He has the potential to make a huge impact if he can stay healthy. But the team that lands him must have the proper insurance -- e.g. a dependable group of other running backs -- to offset the injury risk. The Redskins don’t.
Matt Jones is the only lock to return from last season’s running back corps. Alfred Morris is expected to test the market as an unrestricted free agent when the new league year begins on March 9. Chris Thompson is an exclusive rights free agent, and December addition Pierre Thomas is an unrestricted free agent once again.
Though they were far from an electrifying tandem for much of the season, Jones and Morris were a rational backfield pairing at the very least. Jones was prone to error, as all rookies are upon entering the league. He also succumbed to a hip pointer injury and missed the final three weeks of the season. But Morris offset the risk, as the Redskins expected him to when they made Jones a part of their game plan. Morris, who has never missed a game in four seasons, had a proven track record of reliability entering last season. The same can’t be said of Jones, and it certainly can’t be said of Foster, entering this season.
Foster played in just four contests last season and hasn’t played a full slate of games since 2012. Despite missing extended time due to injuries, Foster has accrued plenty of mileage during his career, which adds to his risk of not only future injury but also ineffectiveness. All of these factors put Foster’s dependability in serious doubt.
Pairing Foster, who turns 30 in August, with a second-year running back that had injury issues of his own would be risky and border on reckless. Jones has plenty of upside, but he’s far from a proven commodity in the NFL. He has a number of inconsistencies, including ball security, to iron out during his second season. The Redskins will need a more reliable option than Foster while he does.
Dan Roth is a freelance sportswriter and Breaking Burgundy contributor. Follow Dan on Twitter @danrothdc.
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