Surprise! Steelers Sign Ramon Foster – Wither Willie Colon?

Lost in the wake of James Harrison’s release was the news that the Steelers were talking contract with unrestricted free agent Ramon Foster.

  • Apparently, it wasn’t idle chatter

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette is reporting that the Steelers have agreed to a three year contact with Ramon Foster. Terms were not disclosed.

Ramon Foster joined the Steelers as a rookie free agent, saw starting duty toward the end of 2009, and entered the line up when the Steelers got spanked by the New England Patriots in 2010 and has started ever since.

Foster has not only proven to be a durable guard, but also has position flexibility, having started 3 games at tackle for the Steelers. Foster’s traditional position had been right guard, but the Steelers moved him to left guard late in the season when 2012 first round pick David DeCastro returned to the lineup.

Wither Willie Colon?

While the Steelers decision to sign Foster was a surprise, most quarters expected him to dip his toes into the free agent market, the immediate speculation was over what this meant for current starting guard Willie Colon.

Late in the season and for much of this off season myriad press reports indicated that the Steelers would part ways with the oft-injured Colon. Still, his agent Joe Linta has gone on record saying that the Steelers told him two weeks ago that they did not plan to release the guard.

That may be the case, but perhaps the Steelers do not plan to release James Harrison, and suddenly found themselves with more salary cap space than expected.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette beat writer Ed Bouchette stated on Twitter:

#Steelers cd designate Colon June 1 cut now so he cd sign elsewhere & team gains cap advantage but not until June 1. Counts on cap till then
— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) March 11, 2013

No matter if #steelers do it now or designate it for June, Willie Colon will be cut. When they did not ask him foe a payout, it said it all.
— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) March 11, 2013

Steelers Stock Piling Offensive Lineman?

While Ed Bouchette has sources and his logic is water tight sense, other possible explanations exist.

It is impossible to discuss the fiscal impact of Foster’s signing without knowing how much he is being paid. Only starter money could convince Foster to sign without testing the open market and conventional wisdom would dictate that the salary cap strapped Steelers could not enter the season carrying six starting offensive line salaries.

Another point to consider is that of the Steelers offensive line, only Foster and Willie Colon have veteran salaries.  Maurkice Pouncey, Marcus Gilbert, Kelvin Beachum, David DeCastro, and Mike Adams are working on their rookie contracts.

  • Given the horrendous injury issues the Steelers have suffered in recent seasons on the offensive line, stock piling offensive lineman is not too far fetched a scenario

Finally there is the salary cap itself. No one denies that the Steelers have salary cap issues, but it is possible that the restructurings, the release of Harrison, and the unexpected increase in the salary cap itself has left the Steelers with more space than reported in the press.

The wait will not be long. If the Steelers are going to cut Willie Colon, they’ll likely do so soon.

Thanks for visiting. Click here for the rest of Steel Curtain Rising or here to see our Steelers 2013 Free Agent Focus.

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