With Anthony Walker injured, the Cleveland Browns could turn to Reuben Foster for depth at linebacker
During the offseason, the Cleveland Browns went out and bolstered their linebacking corps with the free-agent signing of Anthony Walker and the selection of Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Their hope was to use their new additions alongside 2020 selection Jacob Phillips to form a solid trio. Unfortunately, they already lost one of those players as Phillips was hurt in the preseason. Now, Walker joins him as the veteran linebacker is expected to be sidelined for “weeks” with a hamstring injury.
According to Aaron Wilson, the Browns could be looking to fill the void left by Walker with the signing of former first-round pick Reuben Foster.
At first glance, this sounds like another good move for general manager Andrew Berry but it does come with some risk. Foster was a star at Alabama and entered the league with some lofty expectations. However, he hasn’t played in an NFL game since his second season in the league, which was back in 2018.
Originally taken by the San Francisco 49ers, Foster found himself in trouble for several off-field issues, including a domestic violence charge in 2018 which led to his release (although those charges were eventually dropped). In all, the 49ers got 16 games and 101 tackles in two years for the 31st overall pick.
Since leaving San Francisco, he was able to get a shot with the Washington Football Team. However, he never made an appearance for them after suffering a torn ACL and LCL in his first practice.
He tried to make it back in 2020 but again spent the season on the IR.
It’s concerning that Foster hasn’t played in so long as are the off-field accusations. However, if he really has cleaned things up in his personal life — and if he’s truly healthy — this could be another reclamation project much like the Browns have in Malik McDowell.
Cleveland added McDowell this offseason after he was away from the game since 2016 —and had never played in the NFL — and he’s already proven them right by becoming a starter.
Foster, like McDowell, is a player with tremendous talent. And at 27 years of age, he could still have a decent career, should he get back on track.
Having said that, these risky moves don’t pay off every time, which is why they’re called risks. But the Browns are surely wise for kicking the tires and seeing if this young man can help them, even if it’s only for the time they’re without Walker.