This past week has seen quite a lot of hype building up to the official start of free agency next Tuesday, March 13th. Peyton Manning was released by the Colts and immediately drew interest among QB-hungry teams around the NFL. In other news, the Redskins pulled off a blockbuster trade for the Rams’ No.2 overall pick, surrendering two future first-round picks and another second rounder, presumably for the rights to draft 2011 Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III.
Lost in all the buzz surrounding Manning’s free agency status and RGIII’s draft stock was the Houston Texans’ long-anticipated contract extension of star RB Arian Foster. Considering Foster’s talent and his premium production for the past couple seasons, it was hard for Houston fans to contain jubilance upon learning the news. Now that we know for sure No.23 will don battle red and steel blue for years to come, let us explore what this means for the Texans, on and off the field.
With Foster’s service retained, the Texans will continue to showcase a top-notch ground attack in their offensive gameplan, barring injuries. After emerging from the practice squad in 2009 to special teams and finally named the team’s starting RB two seasons ago, Foster has accumulated a grand total of 4411 yards from scrimmage to go with 33 touchdowns, phenomenal numbers considering his initial status as an undrafted free agent. Patience in the back field, elusiveness, great vision, and an uncanny ability to make cuts, Foster’s repertoire fits the Texans’ zone stretch running scheme to a T. Coupled with Ben Tate and his physical running style, the Texans currently have in their arsenal a formidable rushing tandem of two 1000+ yard rushers. That means not only do the Texans have a franchise RB in the form of Foster, they also possess a competent backup in Tate as an insurance plan as well. Both are still young (Tate 24, Foster 25), in their prime, and under team control long-term. It’s always a plus to have stability at such a volatile position as running back. The Texans do, and for a team in win-now mode, this is exactly what they need.
Foster is set to remain a Texan during this stretch of contending years following this season. He will provide a huge impact to the Texans’ offense with his incredible talent. But his overall influence on the organization as a whole is not just limited to his on-field performance. If his emotional contract-signing press conference is any indication, Foster has established himself among NFL peers as a real gentleman, a class act. Throughout the whole contract negotiation process, all he had to say was that he loves the city of Houston and would love to stay here long-term. And the Texans rewarded the University of Tennessee product with a five-year, $43.5 million deal last week, the NFL’s fourth-biggest contract handed out to a RB. Foster’s work ethic on the field and his professionalism off of it are what many talented professional athletes lack in this day and age. It is a huge blessing for the Texans to have such an awesome combination of on-field talent and off-field image as the franchise cornerstone, a pivotal part of their organization. Foster will undoubtedly paint a positive image of the Texans in the heart and mind of the whole Houston fanbase.
For all the reasons above, the Texans are primed to get their money’s worth.