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Texans face dilemma with Arian Foster

Divisional Playoffs - Houston Texans v Baltimore Ravens Getty Images

The Texans are expected to make free agent pass rusher Mario Williams their top priority this offseason, but they aren’t expected to use the franchise tag to keep him.

Houston would have to spend almost $23 million to keep Williams via the tag, and that would be nearly impossible considering how tight they are to the cap.

Perhaps that will open up the use of the franchise tag for another big name player: Arian Foster.

Foster is a restricted free agent, but the new CBA makes it easier for other teams to go after him. Interested teams “only” have to give up a first round pick and a contract to sign Foster. The Steelers are in a very similar situation with Mike Wallace, and they are considering using the tag on Wallace.

The Texans want to sign Foster long-term, but what if a deal isn’t worked out by March 5?

John McClain of the Houston Chronicle wrote earlier this offseason the team’s plan is to tender Foster at the highest level and match any possible competing offer. That’s a risky move. A team like the Patriots or Bengals could try to sign Foster to a front-loaded contract that is difficult to match.

Ultimately, Houston may have to choose between Williams and Foster. (And we don’t think Houston will let Foster get away.) Getting a long-term contract done quickly with Foster looks a lot more realistic. The Texans could use the tag — expected to be around $8 million — as a way to buy time while they work on a contract with Foster.

In the meantime, Williams may become the highest paid defensive player in the league for another team.

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51 Responses to “Texans face dilemma with Arian Foster”
  1. captainwisdom8888 says: Feb 14, 2012 11:32 AM

    ben tate

  2. vtsquirm says: Feb 14, 2012 11:38 AM

    i just don’t see anyone giving up a 1st round pick for Foster, regardless of how good he is. In this scenario you’d be paying out the money to acquire him & giving up a valuable draft pick. why not grab trent richardson or david wilson if you are going to give up the pick? At least the salary number would be less.

  3. jmagnet28 says: Feb 14, 2012 11:38 AM

    This is a no-brainer. If you must choose between these two, you go with Mario. Why? Ben Tate. He has shown hes more than capable to be a primary back and a good one at that.

    “But what about Mario’s injury history?”

    To that I answer, “what about Arians?”

    I think its pretty obvious at this juncture that premier DEs are far more valuable than premier RBs.

  4. galvestontexans says: Feb 14, 2012 11:38 AM

    And you think we have room for Manning?

  5. theghostoflombardi says: Feb 14, 2012 11:40 AM

    If they have to choose between Foster and Williams, I think they should go with Williams. They have a lot of talent on offense and it’s not like Ben Tate can’t run the football. He’s looked like a real beast.

    It’s hard to let a player like Foster walk, but he’s less valuable to the team given Tate.

  6. jkhart says: Feb 14, 2012 11:41 AM

    Word of the day: dilemma

  7. We'reFineThere says: Feb 14, 2012 11:42 AM

    Foster better get his money now. Runningback might be the most fun position until its your livelihood.

  8. Soulman45 says: Feb 14, 2012 11:42 AM

    These tags is going to bring the salary down for some players a team only have so much money we might see a lots of players walk.

  9. nflofficeadmin says: Feb 14, 2012 11:45 AM

    I thought Williams was looking pretty good in the 3-4. But who knows maybe he would prefer getting back to a 4-3 scheme.

  10. lapsncaps says: Feb 14, 2012 11:46 AM

    Considering the way the Texans’ defense played last year without Mario, I believe they will be more inclined to let him walk. Arian Foster IS their offense and cannot afford to have another team swoop him up with an overpriced contract and get a first round pick in return.

    I’d use it on Arian first, if cant cram out a deal before the tag deadline. If they do get a long term deal for him, I’d then use the tag on Williams and trade him away.

  11. moonischasinme says: Feb 14, 2012 11:48 AM

    Foster will stay and Mario will be a Buffalo Bill in 2012. Write it down.

  12. joetoronto says: Feb 14, 2012 11:49 AM

    Draft picks are the unknown, players are the known.

    Some people tend to forget about that.

  13. bearsrulepackdrool says: Feb 14, 2012 11:53 AM

    Wait so the other team doesn’t have to match it to keep him? If a team signs a contract and gives up a 1st rounder. He’s automatically theirs’?

  14. txndave says: Feb 14, 2012 11:54 AM

    Whe Williams is healthy he’s a terror. But he’s always hurt. Piss on him.
    Back up the money truck 2 Foster’s door and unload it.

  15. daknight93 says: Feb 14, 2012 11:55 AM

    Foster is more valuable and texans went to playoffs and won without mario williams…it’s a no brainer, keep foster and sign him to a long term deal

  16. stevincinci says: Feb 14, 2012 11:55 AM

    Bengals would love to have either one of them, especially Foster.

  17. maliciousmiz4 says: Feb 14, 2012 11:56 AM

    You know there’s a team up in Wisconsin that has a big need for another great pass rusher….

  18. calibear831 says: Feb 14, 2012 11:56 AM

    Come on oakland lets go get Mario!

  19. kingmiedus says: Feb 14, 2012 11:57 AM

    Why pay huge dollars for Foster, when Tate showed he can produce similar results (albeit not over the length of an entire season)? I’m not saying don’t pay Foster, but do you really need to break the bank for him? Running backs have become very interchangeable and Houston runs an offense that seems to be able to produce good results from those interchangeable backs (see Steve Slaton before Foster, Ben Tate when Foster was injured).

  20. schaef17 says: Feb 14, 2012 12:02 PM

    Where does everyone keep getting this 23 million number for the Franchise Tag for Mario Williams? Since when did the top 5 defensive ends start making Tom Brady money?

  21. rezdawg says: Feb 14, 2012 12:02 PM

    Mario isnt nearly the priority for the Texans as many think he is…their defense was still top notch with him on the sideline. With that money, the Texans can keep Foster and add another key piece to their team next season.

  22. schaef17 says: Feb 14, 2012 12:05 PM

    Also, not saying this is right, or that it is what the Texans are actually doing but the jolly ole John McLain that you mention above is on record saying that Mario is the top priority: https://twitter.com/#!/McClain_on_NFL/status/169436550940213249

  23. athenstexan says: Feb 14, 2012 12:07 PM

    Unfortunately, Williams is gone. Foster is here to stay, but I really think numerous backs could succeed in Houston’s scheme. This is the first time EVER that we have a balanced team. It’s a good feeling.

  24. jessethegreat says: Feb 14, 2012 12:09 PM

    He turned out to be a great 1st overall pick, but I believe the Texans will place priority on Foster.

    Their D was much improved this year, even with Super Mario hurt for a good portion of it thanks to the additions of Wade Phillips with his 3-4 scheme, JJ Watt with his A+ rookie year, and Johnathan Joseph shoring up the once weak CB position.

    Foster is the young back that doesn’t have many miles on his legs. Mario might last longer than Foster in the league going forward due to the shelf life of a RB vs the shelf life of an OLB/DE, but the Texans should expect another good/great 4-5 years of Arian slashing and running thru defenses. IMHO, Foster was and is the key to the Texans offense but Williams was just a very good piece of their D.

    If only Super Mario were a 3-4 end instead of a 4-3 end / 3-4 olb. If this were the case, he’d be the glaring weakness my Packers need filled.

  25. ziggy26 says: Feb 14, 2012 12:18 PM

    Name the last elite running back that led his team to a Super Bowl…

    …(crickets)…

  26. silvernblackpa says: Feb 14, 2012 12:20 PM

    I think the Texans will get a long term deal done with Williams, but in the vein of “a boy can dream”, he’d look MIGHTY GOOD coming off the edge dressed in silver and black.

  27. rwmilli says: Feb 14, 2012 12:28 PM

    Lol at all you saying foster over Williams….RB = most replaceable position…look at how many stud Backs there are today..sure not all are AP or CJ, but it’s by far the most replaceable position.

  28. metalhead65 says: Feb 14, 2012 12:31 PM

    by all means keep foster. I think williams would look pretty good on the other side of Juilias Peppers in Chicago.

  29. effedinLA says: Feb 14, 2012 12:43 PM

    Pay Foster like the other running backs that had great starts and watch him fold up like a lawn chair. Too much money appears to slow down RB’s with few exceptions.

  30. 4evrnyt says: Feb 14, 2012 12:47 PM

    Pass Rusher > > > RB

    It’s been proven far easier to come by a very good or even great running back then it is an average pass rusher in this league. Why you would choose an injury prone RB over your leading pass rusher is mind boggling to me.

  31. zukith says: Feb 14, 2012 12:57 PM

    ziggy26 says: Feb 14, 2012 12:18 PM

    “Name the last elite running back that led his team to a Super Bowl…

    …(crickets)…”

    Terrell Davis

  32. rootintootinnootin says: Feb 14, 2012 1:02 PM

    Franchising a RB in this day and age is ludicrous. Any RB could get behind that offensive line and produce big numbers.

    Tate averaged 5.4 ypc, which is an entire yard better than Foster averaged last year.

    So, saying that they won’t let Foster get away instead of Williams just seems like really poor analysis to me.

  33. andrejohnsonforpresident says: Feb 14, 2012 1:04 PM

    If they let certain players walk they can get both back. Mr McNair has the money to do what the steelers did. Maybe a few players will give some money back. Cough cough Andre!! Be a team player man!!!

  34. texanvol says: Feb 14, 2012 1:04 PM

    @rwmilli lol at your stupidity. “sure not all are AP or CJ”. ARIAN FOSTER is as good/better than AP or CJ. You clearly dont watch the texans. If you did, you would know that Foster isnt replaceable and that Mario, in fact, is.

  35. ampats says: Feb 14, 2012 1:06 PM

    As a Patriots fan I say keep Foster because Mario Williams will look great in a Pats uniform. There is already talk (radio)about BB going after Williams if he is available and cap space is not an issue.

  36. dboskie says: Feb 14, 2012 1:32 PM

    4evrnyt says:
    Pass Rusher > > > RB

    It’s been proven far easier to come by a very good or even great running back then it is an average pass rusher in this league. Why you would choose an injury prone RB over your leading pass rusher is mind boggling to me.
    ————————————————–
    A couple of things here. I am a Vikings fan, but I also love watching the Texans. There is no doubt that Foster is a better all-around back than Tate. He is better in pass protection, and as a receiver out of the backfield. You cannot look at yards per carry and use that as the only stat to justify Ben Tate. 2nd: When has Foster ever been injury prone. He has been a stud in the 2 plus years he has been in the league. Williams has had way more injury problems than Foster. 3rd- This team is much better in the red-zone with Foster, than it is with Tate. Franchise tag Foster, get creative with a long-term deal with Williams. If Williams doesn’t sign, it isn’t like the defense sucked last year. Foster has to be retained if this team wants to be a serious player in the AFC playoff race next year.

  37. jsalis13 says: Feb 14, 2012 1:43 PM

    They need to keep Foster. Runningbacks may have short careers, but he should have 4-5 good ones left in him barring major injury. Williams is a great player, but Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed were more than capable replacements.

    The team isn’t old really, but they aren’t getting any younger, especially Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels, so they need to keep their foot on the gas so to speak offensively.

  38. whitemike55 says: Feb 14, 2012 1:59 PM

    As a Diehard Texans fan who has watched every play since there inception, this is what they should do.

    Foster is CLEARLY the better back than Tate. Faster, Better Vision, Better Receiver, and pass protector. That being said, Tate is not bad at all.

    Now, the Texans had the #2 Defense in the league with Mario Williams missing 11 regular season games.

    Without Foster the first 3 weeks we were NOT the same offense.

    In a perfect world I would love to see Mario back in this Defense along with Foster carrying the rock. Unless Mario takes a hometown discount and Texans are willing to Guarantee and backload his contract heavily into 2013, 2014, 2015 he will not be here.

    I’d be willing to take that risk as the Texans GM and backload his contract (Only if we are getting somewhat of a discount) just to see what he can do in Wade’s system. I think Demarcus Ware #’s.

    Try for Long Term Deal with Foster. If that doesn’t work Franchise him at @ 8 million. (He made $550,000 last year)

    To the guy wondering why Mario’s Franchise # will be 22.9 Million. It’s because it’s the higher of 1. Top 5 at his position. or 2. Your previous years Salary cap number x 120%. Mario made 13 million last year, but his cap number was like 20 million last year and 120% of that is @ 22.9 Million. Impossible for the Texans to Tag him. (They may tag him, but recind it in the hopes of trying to trade him)

  39. damcghee says: Feb 14, 2012 2:03 PM

    John McClain is totally clueless Greg.. He loudly supported and pushed for the Texans to give David Carr the contract extension at a bonus of 8 mil and 8 mil each for the following 3 yrs…..He would not entertain any other scenarios… and we know how well that worked out…he is now a photo slide blogger for the Chronicle as is all of the other so called sports writers.reporters on the Houston Comical/Comical.com staff

  40. fordman84 says: Feb 14, 2012 2:06 PM

    Did the new CBA or whatever make it against the rules to put contracts out there that do something like making the entire contract fully guaranteed if the player plays in a certain state more than 4 times, like was the rage for stealing so many restricted players the last few years?

    If Cincy makes a contract that has guarantees or escalators for playing in the state of Texas more than 4 times, then Houston would be unlikely to match that offer.

  41. damcghee says: Feb 14, 2012 2:09 PM

    Let Williams go!!!!!!! he was totally inadequate as an outside LB in the 3-4…..the defense really took off when he was hurt and replaced by Brooks Reed in the line-up…….Willaims has never been anything even playing full time but a speed rusher a one trick pony certainly not worth 23 mil..it would be McNair’s folly with David Carr all over again…..McClain couldn’t wipe his chin if N.D. Kalu didn’t hand him a nakin so don’t listen to him as a voice of knowledge or authority..put another 50 worst/best photo slides up John!

  42. texans3four says: Feb 14, 2012 2:18 PM

    The other ‘priority’ for the Texans is keeping the O-line intact. They need to re-sign Chris Meyers(C) and Mike Brisel (RG) in order to maintain what is arguably the best line in football. Foster and Tate excel because the Texans’ Zone Blocking scheme is run to perfection. I’d hate to lose Mario, but the money they’ll have to give up to keep him should be spent on maintaining and upgrading the offensive side of the ball this year. And in 2013, Shaub, Duane Brown (LT) and Connor Barwin (DE/OLB) are key figures that will be up for renewal so impact beyond this year has to be considered.

  43. schaef17 says: Feb 14, 2012 2:26 PM

    http://nfllabor.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/collective-bargaining-agreement-2011-2020.pdf

    Just read throught the Franchise Tag section briefly but I don’t see any mention of the 120% of the cap number rule, and I do faintly recall reading a while back that it had been removed from the latest version. Can anyone verify or refute this?

  44. havok82 says: Feb 14, 2012 2:36 PM

    Foster is healthy while Williams is coming off an IR season. Ben Tate is great, but that offense has run off Foster for 2 years now. Mediocre backs are all over the place, but franchise guys are hard to find. With JJ Watt and others, they don’t need Williams as much on D anymore. They can afford to let him walk.

  45. drsodrel says: Feb 14, 2012 2:47 PM

    Dear AJ Smith,

    Please sign Mario Williams if he hits the open market.

    -Chargers fan thats fed up with your shenanigans.

  46. will447 says: Feb 14, 2012 2:51 PM

    ziggy26 says: Feb 14, 2012 12:18 PM

    “Name the last elite running back that led his team to a Super Bowl…

    …(crickets)…”

    Marshall Faulk

  47. schaef17 says: Feb 14, 2012 2:52 PM

    Clarification (clarification of the clarification: I’m not sure why I care about this at all): So I read here:

    http://www.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/entry/22475988/34834810

    that the 120% rule applies to players when they get franchised for the second consecutive year. Unless I’m mistaken, which I often am although I don’t think I am here, Mario was not franchised last year and thus that rule does not apply to him and he would only be subject to the approximate 10.6 mill franchise price. Rosenthal, any words of wisdom?

  48. 16x8equal49ers says: Feb 14, 2012 2:53 PM

    This could be karma. Once again the Texans have to choose between Williams or a running back.

  49. sasquash20 says: Feb 14, 2012 3:09 PM

    Sign Mario. DE are harder to replace then RB. As long as the Texans keep that O-Line in place they will be able to be productive in the running game and screen game. Foster is a very good back but Tate proved to be almost as good last season. He is injury prone so if you lose Foster you may have to get another back in the draft to play with Tate but that is easier then getting another stud DE. Bottom line RBs tend to have a short shelf life.

  50. ziggy26 says: Feb 14, 2012 4:10 PM

    will447 says:
    Feb 14, 2012 2:51 PM
    ziggy26 says: Feb 14, 2012 12:18 PM

    “Name the last elite running back that led his team to a Super Bowl…

    …(crickets)…”

    Marshall Faulk
    ——————————————–
    I would say Jamal Lewis with the Ravens in 2001 (2000 season).

    But it was more than a decade ago. Championship teams just aren’t built around running backs anymore. As great as Foster is, money should be spent elsewhere.

  51. will447 says: Feb 14, 2012 5:03 PM

    That is true, but when you have a multi-dimensional player, you have to keep them. Arian was able to lighten the burden on a third string QB and win games.

    3 games without Arian, the Texans struggled. 11 games without Mario, their defense didn’t skip a beat and actually improved. A team like the Texans need a strong RB presence in order to keep their passing game going. As good as Shaub is, he doesn’t scare opposing defenses with his arm.

    Could Tate do what Foster does? Possibly, but would you be willing to risk it and potentially set your team back?

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