The Washington Redskins made a strange move on the eve of their training camp. They cut the team’s leading tackler, linebacker Mason Foster, according to CNN sports anchor Erin Hawksworth.
Foster had 131 total tackles last year for the 7-9-0 Redskins. The starting middle linebacker has worked well in his four seasons in DC since signing from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Last November, the San Francisco 49ers cut former first-round pick MLB Reuben Foster following an arrest for domestic violence. Three days later, the Redskins claimed him on waivers and was expected to compete with Mason for the inside linebacker job. However, in Reuben’s first practice with Washington during May OTAs he was carted off the field with a torn ACL in his left knee. That result placed him on the IR list and is not expected to return this year.
The Redskins then signed former Bears second-round pick Jon Bostic as insurance. Washington’s coaching staff has liked what Bostic brings to the Mike linebacker spot; and by cutting the 30-year old Mason will save $4 million against the salary cap. Bostic has played for six NFL clubs since being drafted in 2013. Washington also likes their 2019 fifth-rounder Cole Holcomb who would be playing on fifth-round money.
Mason Foster (6-1, 250 pounds) has had three seasons with double-digit tackles since joining the league. Last year he was seventh in the NFL in total tackles while in 2016 was 15th (124). He averages 83.3 tackles per season and has a total of 666 for his career.
Other career defensive totals include 20 pass defenses, 8.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, eight interceptions, six fumble recoveries, and two touchdowns. Last year, he started all 16 games.
The Redskins were seeking a trade partner for Mason Foster back in March in the hopes that Reuben Foster would take over the middle linebacker position. Apparently, the club is wanting to go with younger - and cheaper - players.
Tampa played a 4-3 defense with Mason Foster as the starting MLB all four years he was there, including his rookie season.
The Browns played a 4-3 last year with Joe Schobert anchoring the middle linebacker spot under DC/interim head coach Gregg Williams. He netted 103 tackles last year which placed him 35th in the league in total tackles. While the Browns waived leading tackler Jamie Collins last year with his 103 tackles, this leaves a spot on the outside for another player to take the position.
New defensive coordinator Steve Wilks played a 4-2-5 last year while as the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals with two CBs and three safeties.
It is unlikely the Browns would move Schobert who made the Pro Bowl in 2017 and was tied in the total tackling category that year. He has manned the middle for two seasons now.
Mason Foster is healthy and just 30-years old. He is also a tackling machine. Should the Browns try to sign him and stick him outside? Last year Christian Kirksey played the WILL linebacker and is probably going to return in that role with rookie Mack Wilson as his backup.
The defense may eliminate the need for Collins’ SAM linebacker position if Wilks will implement only two linebackers and insert a nickel back into the lineup, or use the true 4-3 instead. When three LBs are deployed, there are several bodies who will compete in training camp including Ray Ray Armstrong and rookie Sione Takitaki,
The questions appear to be, would Mason Foster help this Browns’ defense? Where would he fit? Would he compete to become a starter or will he become pricey insurance? Should the Browns at least bring him in for a workout?