The Houston Texans announced they have parted ways with their all-time leading rusher, Arian Foster.
ESPN's Adam Schefter was the first to report the news Thursday. After the announcement, Foster took to Instagram to weigh in on the end of his time with the Texans:
in 2009 I flew to Houston with every piece of clothing I owned and told my mother I wasn't coming home. I'll find my way. ambitious for an undrafted rookie that knew nothing about anything. but that's exactly what I did. this ride has had a multitude of ups and downs, but perspective is key. I've got 7 years of beautiful memories with teammates, staff and coaches I'll never forget. thank you all for being a part of this journey. people that I call friends and brothers have all contributed to the success of what we did on the field, and also to the person that I am off. with everything in me, I love and respect the men and women you are. you are a part of me for good. and to the city of houston, I genuinely appreciate every ounce of love I've ever gotten. from seeing a small kid to an 80 year old man wear my jersey. I never took it for granted. we're all just guessing our way through life, being the best people we can, and the people of this city have put a lot of joy in the hearts of my self and my family. onward we march, it's been real. nothing but love on this end. 🙏🏾
Per Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports, Texans general manager Rick Smith made it clear salary wouldn't factor into the decision.
Smith commented on the decision to part ways with Foster, via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle:
There are not many players I respect more than Arian Foster. He maximized his opportunity as an undrafted college free agent and worked to become the most productive back in franchise history, and one of the most complete backs in the NFL. During his tenure with the Texans, Arian has contributed much, and meant a great deal to the success of the franchise over the past seven seasons and we wish him only the best as he continues his playing career.
Even so, Houston will save $6.625 million against the salary cap while taking on $2.3 million in dead money by cutting Foster.
The move comes just one week after Smith expressed confidence that Foster would enjoy a bounce-back year in 2016, per NFL.com's Kevin Patra:
I met with Arian a couple weeks ago, he's doing well. One of the things that I was so disappointed for him for last year is because he worked, he probably had his best offseason last year and to see the injuries occur last year was disappointing primarily because I knew how hard he had worked. He's right back at that, he's got the right mindset. He came in and talked to me a couple weeks ago to make sure that we knew that. And I believe him. He'll bounce back. He'll be fine.
The 29-year-old appeared in just four games last season due primarily to an Achilles injury, and he hasn't played a full season since 2012.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported Foster is healthy enough to sign with a team but added that "teams may wait until summer to see him really run."
Foster departs Houston as a four-time Pro Bowler and a first-team All-Pro in 2010. He has 6,472 rushing yards, 2,268 receiving yards and 68 total touchdowns to his credit in seven seasons and 76 appearances for the Texans.
That made him the most prolific rusher in franchise history; Domanick Williams is a distant No. 2 with 3,195 rushing yards.
Foster's agent, Mike McCartney, is excited about the next step:
Foster is among the most productive backs in the league when healthy, but he has spent so much time on the shelf over the past few seasons that the Texans believed he was expendable, according to Rapoport:
For the #Texans and RB Arian Foster, it was about availability as much as anything. And their playoff run coming after his injury.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 3, 2016
Houston struggled running the ball in 2015, averaging 3.7 yards per carry (tied for 28th in the league). Alfred Blue paced the team with 698 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
The 9-7 Texans made the playoffs because of a dominant defense and a weak division (AFC South), but their running game is in need of a fix.
A healthy Foster would have done the trick, but now Houston may instead seek a cheaper and more durable option in free agency or via the draft.
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