NFL

NFL AM: Big Name Veterans Waiting Patiently For Jobs

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Former Houston Texans running back Arian Foster is either the best or second-best player in the history of the NFL’s youngest franchise.  He was the driving force behind the team elevating themselves to expansion laughing stock’s to legitimate playoff contenders.

Just a year and a half removed from a 1,200 yard rushing season, the Texans all-time leading rusher is still looking for a job.

“There are not many players I respect more than Arian Foster,” general manager Rick Smith said in a statement following his release. “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.”

After trying out for the Miami Dolphins back in the spring, just seven months removed from an Achilles tear, Miami Dolphins executive vice president of football operations MikeTannenbaum said Foster’s visit “went well” but that “he’s a little bit away” from being physically ready to play, per Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald.

Now that Foster is cleared for contact, his phone doesn’t seem to be, as the calls from interested NFL teams have been few and far in between, according to a Football Insiders source.

There really hasn’t been much of a message from Foster since he issued this video on his Instagram featuring he and his doctor.

“Today you start some light jogging,” the doctor tells Foster. “No pivoting, cutting, explosive activity. Strengthen all you want. Do your heel lift, elliptical, bike, jog. Surf. Maybe not surf.”

“Back against the wall once again,” Foster wrote as a caption for the video. “I live for s— like this!!!! f— “they”, we out here dreamin!”

Could the greatest running back in the history of the Houston franchise be this year’s Chris Johnson?  Someone everyone believes is washed up that virtually nobody wants but actually produces well when he finally finds a team?  It’s possible.

Last season, Johnson averaged 4.2 yards per carry with three touchdowns for the NFC West champion Arizona Cardinals prior to ending his season prematurely with a fractured tibia.

With any running back north of 30 (Foster will turn 30 on August 24th), health and explosion will be the biggest question marks that need to be answered.

With the injury history that he has, it would be likely that Foster remains unsigned into and following the first week of the season, where his 2016 salary would not be guaranteed.

Although Foster is the ultimate team guy, who is his own man off the field.  He’s outspoken on what he believes, which could turn some micro-managing teams off.

At this point, the most sensible destinations for Foster seem like New England, Cleveland, Indianapolis, both New York squads, Green Bay, Detroit, Oakland and Washington.  All have some varying need at the running back position and his veteran presence would be welcomed in most cities.

Will Catch For Cash

Although Arian Foster remains as probably the biggest free agent name still on the market, he’s not the only one.  Former Baltimore Ravens, Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin is another productive, in-shape veteran still looking for work.

One of the toughest players in the NFL shouldn’t still be looking for a job, as the San Francisco 49ers, who he spent the last three seasons with should be calling him up.  The 49ers have arguably the worst receiving corps this side of Cleveland, and there’s no good reason why they can’t use a locker room and on-field presence like Boldin.

Nothing has been spoken about him publicly from 49ers brass since the NFL Owner’s Meetings, when general manager Trent Baalke had this to say.

“Right now, we’ve had no discussions with Anquan up to this point,” said Baalke.  “We left it in the offseason that we’d get back together at some point and talk about his future and what he’s looking for. Have not had that conversation as of yet.”

If the 49ers (Chip Kelly) are hell-bent on not bringing the veteran back, there are a few teams that should be able to use his services.

  • The Buffalo Bills immediately come to mind, as they can use a veteran presence opposite Sammy Watkins.
  • The New York Giants have a need for a sure-handed tight end hybrid, which Boldin seems to be.  This could open up even greater things down the field for Victor Cruz as he returns opposite the great Odell Beckham.
  • The Cleveland Browns could use anyone that can get open and catch a football.
  • The Los Angeles Rams could use anyone that can get open and catch a football.
  • The Miami Dolphins would really benefit from the veteran presence which Boldin brings.

About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.