In May, the Washington Redskins will have a decision to make regarding Reuben Foster. Considering all the question marks surrounding him, Would picking up Foster’s fifth year option be in Washington’s best interest?

In 2017, The San Francisco 49ers drafted Reuben Foster in the first round with their 31st overall pick. Foster was the fourth linebacker taken in the draft, but many had him projected to be taken earlier in the first round. 

Yet, two years later, Foster was released by the 49ers due to issues on-and-off the field. Foster hit waivers and his rights were claimed by the Washington Redskins. The team now has until early May to pick up Foster’s fifth year option. The question now is Should Washington choose to pick up Foster’s option or let him walk? 

Reasons for picking up his option

(Gale Majewski/GETTY images)

On field play

Coming out of college, Reuben Foster was a high profile player who many had projected to go in the first round. Foster won many awards throughout his college years. In his senior year, Foster accumulated 115 tackles with five sacks on an Alabama defense that won the college football championship. 

He carried this momentum into his rookie season getting 72 tackles in just ten games. According to PFF, Foster ended his rookie year with an 81.9 overall grade

If the team believes Foster can return to form, picking up his option would be a good choice. With the Redskins switching to a 4-3 defense, Foster would be a great linebacker to have on the team. He is still young and his college pedigree speaks for itself. 

Depth at linebacker

(Garrett Campbell/WASHINGTON REDSKINS)

In 2019, the Washington Redskins were thin at linebacker with multiple players going down for injury throughout the season. This off-season they have signed players to try to add depth to the group. 

Even with the additions, Washington’s linebackers group is limited in terms of starting-caliber talent. Thomas Davis looks to be capable of starting this season, but will age hinder his ability to produce as expected? The Redskins also signed Kevin Pierre-Louis who doesn’t seem to be much more than a rotational back who will spend most of his time on special teams. 

Cole Holcomb appears to have promise, but behind him the returning players have question marks. Jon Bostic and Josh Harvey Clemons are both returning players who struggle in coverage. Shaun Dion Hamilton, while he looks to be a talented linebacker, has not shown enough spark to challenge a “healthy” Reuben Foster. So Reuben’s talent would be welcomed. 

Reasons to not pick up his option

Off field issues

(Ellyn Santiago/Hillsborough County News)

Foster has had multiple off-field issues in college and since joining the league in 2017. These issues caused his draft stock to fall and lead to his eventual release from the 49ers.

His first incident came at the 2017 NFL combine when Foster had a run-in with medical staff. On top of this altercation, Foster did not pass the drug test that was performed at the combine. 

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The next notable strike came when Foster was charged with domestic abuse and weapons possession. While the domestic abuse was dropped, Foster was still hit with a probation charge for illegal possession and was given a two game suspension by the league. 

This was not the last of Foster’s problems with domestic abuse. In November of 2018, the same woman charged Foster again with domestic violence. This charge was the final tipping point for the 49ers and they decided to drop him. Even though Foster has not had any off field issues since being signed, Foster is still a big question mark when it comes to legal trouble. 

Injury Concerns

(Tahj Martin/AP Photo)

Injuries are another huge concern when looking at whether or not to pick up Reuben Foster’s fifth year option. In his three years in the league, Foster has only played in 16 games. 

In his rookie season, Foster was only able to contribute in 10 games before getting injured multiple times. The first injury was a high ankle sprain that kept him out of five games and the next was a rib injury which forced him to miss a game. 

After missing the first two games of his second season due to suspension, Foster returned and played six games before sustaining an injury to his hamstring. This injury held him out of two more games before he was released by the 49ers. 

The Redskins then claimed Foster off waivers believing he would be a starting linebacker. During offseason activities, Foster again goes down with a major injury landing on injured reserve for the season. With the question marks surrounding Foster’s past injuries, the Redskins would be taking a major risk assuming Foster is the answer at linebacker. 

Team Culture

(Redskins.Com)

This off-season the Redskins hired Ron Rivera as their new head coach. One of Rivera’s main points so far is that he wants to instill a respectable culture in the organization. 

Rivera started changing the team’s culture quickly by replacing multiple coaches on the team. His next mission is to get rid of players that fit the script of what Rivera is looking for.

Quinton Dunbar did not fit the culture being instilled in Washington and was traded away for a mere fifth-round pick. Trent Williams is another player who is not “all in” with the organization and has been given permission to seek a trade as well.

When the 49ers released Foster it was a big decision to make. Jed York, the 49ers CEO, said releasing Foster was the defining moment for the team’s culture. If the Redskins want to instill a new culture in the organization, releasing Foster may be the defining moment for them as well.   

So What Should the Redskins Do?

In conclusion, the Washington Redskins have a decision to make on their hands. Looking at all the factors the most logical implication is that the Redskins should not pick up Foster’s option. With Foster being a signing during the Bruce Allen era, Ron Rivera has no connections to Foster. If Rivera thinks Foster is not worth the pain he may not even be a lock to make the roster this season. 

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