Undrafted in 2009, Texans running back Arian Foster rushed for 1,616 yards in 2010 and 1,224 in 2011. Throw in 604 receiving yards last year and 617 this year, and that’s an average of 2,030 yards from scrimmage per season.
And then there’s the fact that he rushed for 153 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday’s 31-10 wild-card win over the Bengals.
As Foster completes his exclusive-rights tender of $525,000 and moves toward restricted free agency, a source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that zero progress has been made on a long-term deal.
The question now becomes whether the Texans will reward him financially, or whether the Texans will squat on Foster with the highest possible tender, which would give Foster something in the range of $3 million and the Texans a first-round and third-round pick as compensation if he signs an offer sheet the Texans choose not to match.
If the Texans fear that someone will make a run at the best young running back in the league, they could use the franchise tag instead, which would pay Foster several million more and bump the compensation to two first-round picks.
If Foster receives a one-year tender offer, he’ll be entitled to hold out as long as he chooses, since he won’t be under contract. In theory, he could show up in Week 10, sign the tender, and get credit for his fourth season, becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2013.
What gives the Texans leverage, but what should compel them not to abuse it, is the fact that Foster simply wants to play football. For example, he didn’t hesitate to sign his one-year tender offer in 2011, likely fearful that if he stays away someone else (like Ben Tate) would have become the lead dog.
Still, at some point the locker room will begin to question the franchise for not taking care of their franchise tailback. That’s why the Texans need to make Foster a fair offer on a long-term deal, sooner rather than later.
Unless the Texans are willing to assume that Foster’s success comes from the offensive line, and that they could replace his production with Tate and whoever else the team can find, even if it means signing another undrafted guy, like Foster.