After 11 seasons in Pittsburgh, Ramon Foster has decided to retire. Now, its time to reminisce on the impressive career he had with the Steelers.
On behalf of the entirety of Steelers nation, thank you, Ramon Foster. Thank you for 11 years dedicated to protecting our QB. Thank you for speaking up for the players as a union rep. Thank you for adding consistency to the line that the team hadn’t seen since letting Alan Faneca leave.
With his career coming to a close, there has been an outpour of support for the longtime Steelers starter. With his retirement official, it is time to look back and remember just how good the Steelers had it with Foster in the trenches.
Coming out of the University of Tennessee in 2009, Foster was a projected late-round pick who ultimately fell out of the draft before signing with the Steelers. The typical “UDFA longshot”, Foster was thrown into a crowded room along with the interior of the line. With 3rd round draft pick Kraig Urbik and 7th round pick A.Q. Shipley favored due to them being drafted, Foster entered camp as an unlikely roster option.
Yet he worked his way up the ranks. By the time the season rolled around, Foster had claimed the top backup spot behind starters Chris Kemoeatu and Trai Essex (yes, he beat out a 3rd round pick). By the end of his rookie season, he had played in 14 total games and had started 4 of them.
Foster never looked back after a sensational rookie year. He split time as the starter with Essex at RG in 2010, playing in 12 games and starting 8. By 2011 Foster had become a full-time starter and never looked back.
Foster signed his first big extension in 2013 when he signed a 3-year deal worth 5.5 million with a whopping 900k signing bonus. In comparison, top free agent guards Andy Levitre and Louis Vasquez signed 6-year 46.8 million and 4-year 23.5 million dollar deals respectfully. Foster re-upped in 2016 to the tune of 3-years, 9.6 million dollars with a 2.75 million dollar signing bonus. Conversely, in 2016, Kelechi Osemele earned a 5-year 58.5 million dollar deal.
This isn’t to say Foster was at these players levels or that they didn’t earn their deals (neither are true), but the fact remains that Foster played at a steady discount for all of his career. To have such a steady and experienced presence (eventually a 145-game starter) for contracts that were pennies on the dollar, Foster was consistently a value option on the line.
As his career continued, Foster became a voice in the locker room. He could be heard for an interview after the best of wins and the most grueling of losses. As a union rep, he spoke up for the little guys, the ones like him, that were clawing for every penny and opportunity they could get. He was the epitome of a team player, a guy that would do whatever it took to better the team.
While finding a long-term player as a UDFA is impressive enough, Foster was no slouch. Consistently he was one of the better players on the line. While he never earned accolades such as pro bowls or first-team all-pro bids, he was dependable and consistent, traits that are vital to an offensive lineman.
Even with his play declining this past year, that shouldn’t shadow the entirety of his impressive career. While his accolades will never see him to the Hall of Fame, I’d expect him to find a well-deserved spot in the Steelers Hall of Honor someday. From UDFA to 145 game starters, Foster was the embodiment of what it takes to be a Steeler. No one is certain where his post-playing days will take him, but for now, we all owe Foster one final thank you.