The Texans have released one of the greatest players in franchise history.
"There are not many players I respect more than Arian Foster," general manager Rick Smith said in a statement Thursday. "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."
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"I've got (seven) years of beautiful memories with teammates, staff and coaches I'll never forget," Foster wrote. "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 ..."
Foster, 29, had an incredible stretch in Houston. The former undrafted free agent, buoyed by his versatile skill set and shrewd understanding of the zone blocking system, racked up 4,264 yards and 41 touchdowns over a three-year span between 2010 and 2012. In that time, he also caught more than 100 passes for 1,438 yards and six touchdowns.
Unfortunately, Foster suffered from injury issues like most players at the position eventually do. He underwent microscopic lumbar discectomy surgery, which prematurely ended his 2013 season after just eight games. A comeback season in 2014 -- 1,246 rushing yards and eight touchdowns -- was followed by a ruptured Achilles tendon just four games in to 2015.
"As it relates to all the free-agent conversations, I'm never really going to tell you one way or the other what we are doing, but I will tell you this: his salary is not a reason why we would cut Arian," Smith said.
It appears that health is the ultimate culprit. Per Rapoport, "availability as much as anything" contributed to Foster's release. Rapoport adds, per someone who has seen Foster rehab, he's healthy enough to sign with a team now, though, this could be a situation where he signs in June before minicamp because teams might want to see him really run at full-speed before he's signed.
The development begs two questions: How will the Texans move on from a leadership standpoint and where might Foster land next?
The next few months will be very interesting.