Redskins Decline Option on Reuben Foster, What Does it Mean?

In a completely expected move, the Redskins declined the fifth-year contract option for Reuben Foster, who is trying to recover from a brutal knee injury.
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His arrival was nothing but controversial. An unnecessary risk on the whole for the Washington Redskins, no matter what Bruce Allen clumsily said at the time. 

However, it was a good football decision if you were purely evaluating that element because the Redskins had very little at the time. 

Zach Brown? No thanks. Mason Foster? His time was up. Name your young, unproven linebacker (Shaun Dion Hamilton, Cole Holcomb (wasn't on roster yet), Josh Harvey-Clemons) and they all offered something and yet not enough in the same shot. 

The Redskins had a choice but they didn't have a great choice, because they were so bad and thin.

Foster never did play that year for the Redskins as he tried to acclimate and prove himself. 

Then in his first full practice - he was chasing with athleticism and speed rarely seen at the linebacker spot in Washington and his leg snapped like a twig. 

Done. Out for the year and perhaps more. In May. 

Today, the Redskins made the worst-kept secret known to Les Carpenter of the Washington Post. The organization is bypassing their fifth-year contract option for the former Alabama star. 

No surprise. At all. New rules or old rules. It doesn't matter. There was no reason for it. 

None. At all. 

Earlier this week, the Redskins picked up Jonathan Allen's fifth-year option.  

The only thing in common both players have is their first-round pick status and that they played their college ball at Alabama. 

Foster, has to overcome his well earned image issues and a brutal injury that cost him the ability to even feel his toes until January. 

Even with the new CBA rules not affecting Foster, there was no chance the Redskins could take this gamble, because under the old 2011 CBA rules, the fifth-year option was guaranteed for injury only, not skill.

Per Joel Corry of - "For 2017 first-round picks, the fifth year is guaranteed for injury when the option is exercised. Their option years become fully guaranteed on the first day of the league year in the fifth contract year, which will be mid-March 2021."

If Foster never recovers and therefore can't pass whatever the protocol is for that situation, the Redskins would be on the hook in 2021. 

Starting next year (Daron Payne, 2018 first-round picks), the new rules will be in place, which specify that a fifth-year option is guaranteed period when exercised. 

That's going to mean much harder decisions, because it's impossible to forecast injury unless a player already has one, like Foster. 

It wasn't a difficult decision on Foster. Nor was it for Allen. The decisions get very tough starting next year. For the Redskins and the rest of the NFL. 

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Chris Russell is the Publisher of & Sports Illustrated's Washington Redskins channel. He can be heard on 106.7 The FAN in the Washington D.C. area and world-wide on Chris also hosts the "Locked on Redskins" Podcast and can be read via subscription to Warpath Magazine. You can e-mail Chris at or follow him on Twitter at @Russellmania621.