The Dolphins are bringing in running back Arian Foster on Tuesday, but a league source cautioned that unlike the case with guard Kraig Urbik last week, Miami isn’t going into this with the intention of signing him immediately.
The Dolphins want to check him out medically five months after he sustained a ruptured Achilles’ in a game against them. They also want to establish a relationship. They are interested but they don’t go into this 100 percent certain that they want to sign him.
If they're thrilled with the medicals and the player, it's conceivable they could move quickly. But they don't go into this meeting planning to do that.
So what exactly would the Dolphins be getting if they eventually sign Foster?
Miami would hope it’s the player who averaged 4.8 yards and ran for 1246 yards in 2014, not the one limited to 2.6 per carry in four games last season before a season-ending ruptured Achilles injury.
Foster was a highly productive and consistent workhorse for most of his seven seasons for Houston. He averaged 4.8, 4.9, 4.4, 4.1, 4.5 and 4.8 yards per carry in his first six. He ran for 1616 yards in his second season, 1424 in his fourth.
He returned from a back injury in November 2013 to put together a terrific season in 2014, ending in a Pro Bowl berth.
But he ruptured his Achilles’ tendon in a loss to the Dolphins in late October and finished with 163 yards rushing on 63 carries in four games. He also caught 22 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns in those four games.
Foster, who has 16 fumbles in his seven seasons, has been effective as a receiver out of the backfield throughout his career. He has a career 9.1 yard average on 249 career receptions, plus 14 touchdowns.
So how much does Foster have left?
Ian Wharton, who does a good job analyzing film for Bleacher Report and others, analyzed Foster in this piece.
Wharton said: “To see if Foster could still execute at a high level, I studied his 2014 and 2015 seasons.... The tape showed a creative back who was not only taking everything the offensive line gave, but also someone who was constantly finding more yards.”
Other veteran backs still available: Reggie Bush, Ronnie Hillman, Pierre Thomas, Tim Hightower, LaGarrette Blount, Joique Bell, Ahmad Bradshaw, Steven Jackson and Fred Jackson.
• ESPN’s Todd McShay has Miami picking Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott 13th overall, though the Dolphins plan to look strongly at cornerbacks (and potentially defensive linemen and linebackers) at that spot.
Elliott certainly can’t be ruled out, though.
McShay’s assessment of Elliott: “The No. 5 player on our board, Elliott has the skill set to be an every-down running back from Day 1. He's an exceptional blocker and a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield, while also showing great vision and suddenness in the open field. The Dolphins need some semblance of a run game to take the pressure off Ryan Tannehill.”
But can the Dolphins really afford to take a running back when they so desperately need cornerback help?
By the way, McShay has Miami drafting Oklahoma State defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah at No. 42.
“He's an explosive athlete with elite measurables, but that doesn't show up on tape frequently enough," McShay said. "Ogbah needs to play with more consistent effort, improve as a hand fighter and develop more of an plan as a pass-rusher.”
• Adam Gase made a good point on the team’s loss of several key free agents. “It’s tough to keep really good players if you don’t get the deal done early,” he said. “I know we’ve lost some good players.”
He didn’t mean that as criticism, but the Dolphins were never aggressive in trying to sign Lamar Miller, Olivier Vernon or Rishard Matthews a year before they became free agents.
• At UM, Mark Richt must decide how much his top corner (Corn Elder) should be used on returns. Gase faces a similar decision with receiver Jarvis Landry.
“Whoever our best guy is, that’s who I want to do it,” Gase said.
“Would I like to get [Landry] to where he wasn’t doing it anymore? Sure. But right now, he’s our best guy back there. Until we find somebody else that can change that to where they can do it, to where we feel good about it and Riz [special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi] feels really good about, he’ll be back there unless we find somebody else.”
• Gase said he’s not sure whether to keep two or three quarterbacks (a lot will depend on whether Miami drafts one and how Logan Thomas looks); said weather will be a top factor in determining how often he goes for two instead of kicking an extra point; and said Bill Parcells is among the people he wants to talk to in the coming months, as he undertakes his first head coaching job.
• A year after losing Manu Lecomte and DeAndre Burnett to transfers, UM lost another today: James Palmer, as ESPN first reported. He wants more playing time.
Palmer averaged 3.4 points and 11.6 minutes per game as a sophomore this season, shooting 36.4 percentage overall and 27.7 on threes. A 6-5 guard out of Washington D.C., Palmer ended up appearing in 72 games for Miami.
His departure gives UM two remaining scholarships, in addition to four highly-regarded incoming freshmen. (See the last post for more on those four).
In case you missed it over a holiday weekend, please see the last post for a look at how the Heat can fit Hassan Whiteside and others under the cap under the NBA’s new salary cap projections, plus Dolphins, Panthers, Canes and Marlins nuggets… Please follow me on Twitter: @flasportsbuzz