Roddy White and Arian Foster: Fare thee well

This has been one heck of an offseason for NFL veterans. Long time stalwarts and fan favorites are finding themselves without homes, at least for the time being. Mario Williams. Charles Johnson. Chris Clemons. Marques Colston. There are so many that NFL.com put out there Top 99 Free Agents list.

None are bigger or mean more to their franchises than Arian Foster and Roddy White.

This is the major difference between the NFL and MLB. Derek Jeter was a shell of his former self, yet the New York Yankees were able to keep him around until he retired on his own terms, paying him $12-million because in baseball, there is no salary cap.

Do you think that the Indianapolis Colts would have ever let Peyton Manning walk away if it weren’t for a salary cap? I mean, no matter where his talent level is at, he did go to two more Super Bowls in the four years since he has left. Tom Brady is an outlier in today’s NFL. Even Emmitt Smith, who some will argue is the best running back of all time, couldn’t finish his career where he wanted to, and that was in Dallas where ludicrous contracts are acceptable.

The NFL is different, and when a team needs to move forward, decisions have to be made. And those decisions are sometimes attached to the larger price tags on the team.

The Atlanta Falcons have had some good teams in their day. They have even been to a Super Bowl back in their heyday. But this is a franchise that wasn’t able to string together consecutive winning seasons until the Matt Ryan Era began.

Think about that. It’s mind boggling. From 1968 to 2008, the Atlanta Falcons never had consecutive winning seasons. Then, from 2008 to 2012, they reeled off five straight. It was an era of high-flying offense, and you can argue that White was the most prolific piece of those teams.

White was the leading receiver every one of those seasons en route to becoming the Falcons all time leading receiver by the time his career as a Dirty Bird ended. He was a true feel good story. The kid that once looked like a first round bust out of UAB — who couldn’t even reel in 50% of his targets in each of his first two seasons — got his head straight and his life together and became the franchise’s single greatest offensive weapon of all time (at least until Julio Jones career ends).

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But Roddy began to show his age last season. He had his worst statistical season since 2006, but it wasn’t simply numbers. He couldn’t separate and — despite having some of the most reliable hands in Falcons history — he began to revisit those drops of his earlier career.

Much like Andre Johnson before him, White finds himself looking for work for the first time in his career. He — like AJ — will find work as a third receiver, and most likely — like AJ — will prove the Falcons were right and continue to digress.

But that doesn’t take away what he did for this city and this franchise. Or that time I yelled his name at training camp and he actually turned around and waved.

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Foster is the last link to the Kubiak Era in Houston. It was the most exciting offense the Texans have ever had, and very well may ever have. Matt Schaub, Arian, and Andre were the poor man’s Triplets while OD did one heck of a job in the middle.

Talk about a feel good story. This kid went undrafted and blew up the world. Biased or not, Arian Foster was the best all around back in the NFL for three straight seasons. And then you found out how cool he was.

He was a poet, a funny man, and creator of one of the more memorable touchdown celebrations of the time.

And yesterday, the Texans moved on and prepared for a future without No. 23. Even his farewell tweet was awesome.

It wasn’t a surprise, and I have been saying all along it was the right move. Texans fans had to endure the likes of Ron Dayne and a broken Ahman Green before Foster came into the picture. While Foster rose to become the best running back in the NFL, his body couldn’t keep up.

Unlike Roddy, Foster should have no problem finding work quickly, as there are already rumors that Kubiak is interested in Denver and the Cowboys are interested in Dallas. I do think that he even may have a season or two of quality football left in him.

But from a Texans standpoint, he’s played 25 of the 48 games over the past three seasons — just a tad over half the games — and the games he has missed have been from major injury. Over that span, the Texans never addressed the future of the running back position, merely getting pieces that could spell Foster and lessen his load. I like Alfred Blue, I like Jonathan Grimes, I even like Polk and Hunt, but none of them are feature backs.

Now, with Foster gone, they will go after his heir apparent. And a new era in Texans football will officially begin.

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