There is no hiding my affection for Arian Foster. He is the greatest running back in the history of my favorite football team. It was sad to see him go, but I also thought it was the right thing the Houston Texans had to do.
A few months back, Foster had a preliminary visit with the Miami Dolphins. Admittedly, Foster himself said that he is still a month away from being ready for football action, and thus he left Miami without a contract.
So where will Arian Foster land?
The plain and simple truth is that even if Arian Foster is 100-percent come July, the likelihood of that lasting is not strong. The past three seasons have seen Foster play 25 of 48 games. Despite putting up monster numbers in just 13 of those games in 2014, Foster will be at the dreaded age-30 mark come opening week of the 2016 season.
Our friends at Pro Football Rumors wrote a compelling article on eight landing spots for Arian Foster. It’s pretty simple when it comes to signing Foster. If the team signs Foster to be their lead back, it is a high-risk, high-reward signing, especially at the amount Foster is going to command.
No, Foster needs to go to a system-based running scheme, with strong complimentary pieces at running back. The was the problem with the Houston Texans. The NFL has become a two-back league, in most cases it is even three-headed monsters that make up backfields. Where Emmitt Smith‘s and Edgerrin James were workhorse backs and the Mike Alstott–Warrick Dunn backfield combo were the exception to the rule, it is now quite the opposite. For every Adrian Peterson backfield, there are three Jeremy Hill–Giovani Bernard combos. Darren McFadden was the fourth leading rusher in the NFL this season and didn’t even have 1100 yards rushing. Just two years ago, everyone in the Top 10 had at least 1100 yards.
Anyway, starting with Ben Tate in the 2010 draft, the Texans tried and failed every year to bring in the guy to lessen the load on Foster. Every year we fans were told that we had the answer, and those backs — whether it was Tate or Alfred Blue or someone of the ilk — would tease us briefly, but then not really come to fruition as the ultimate complimentary back. That took a toll on Foster. Between catching the ball and running it, Foster was a beast, touching the ball nearly every play and getting hit just as many times.
Foster’s athletic ability hasn’t declined, but his durability has. He needs to go somewhere that 10-15 touches a game is the goal and their is a coach strong-willed enough to keep the competitive Foster at bay.
That’s why I disagree with the Denver Broncos as the ideal landing spot for Foster. Sure he will be reunited with Gary Kubiak, sure they have a stout offensive line with a zone blocking scheme that is more favorable to Foster’s running attack, but Kubiak is soft. He would cave and let Foster run until he broke, even with C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman in the backfield.
Originally the Dolphins looked like a favorable landing spot, but with their missing out on signing C.J. Anderson, not drafting a stud back and the uncertainty of future bell cow Jay Ajayi, too much could be expected of Foster in the Sunshine State.
The (hopefully soon-to-be Las Vegas) Raiders are an interesting landing zone. I’ve already discussed how I think the Raiders are loaded offensively and that they could be a team to beat this season. Latavius Murray showed two things last season. One, he is a good NFL running back. Two, he isn’t a full-time back. The Raiders offense is amped up this season, and a compliment to Murray could make them even stronger. Plus, there is just something about watching fast and agile players in the silver and black.
Foster would shine in the New England Patriots system. And we all know that Bill Belichick will keep him in check. If Foster doesn’t want to play by Bill’s Way and succumb to the possibility of an entire second half played by James White, Foster will ride the pine.
Foster likely won’t sign until August. Where he will land is anybody’s guess, but there are certainly teams that can use his services in the right role.