The 2023 USFL season wrapped up on Saturday night with the Birmingham Stallions beating the Pittsburgh Maulers in the league’s championship game. On the heels of that, it will now be interesting to see how many USFL players wind up signing contracts with NFL teams ahead of training camps getting underway. When it comes to one specific linebacker that played for the Maulers, buzz is now building that he could soon land with the Pittsburgh Steelers. In fact, one former Steelers linebacker has now predicted that to happen.
On Sunday, former Steelers inside linebacker Vince Williams took to Twitter to comment on highlights of Maulers inside linebacker Reuben Foster.
“Yeah he’s going to end up playing for the other Pittsburgh football team,” Williams tweeted of Foster.
The back story when it comes to Foster certainly is an intriguing one. After a successful college career at Alabama, Foster was selected in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers at 31st overall.
Foster’s 2017 rookie season ended with the linebacker registering with 72 combined tackles (59 solo) and a pass deflection in ten games and ten starts. However, in July of 2018, Foster was suspended for two games by the NFL for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, stemming from a weapons offense and a misdemeanor drug offense. Following another arrest for domestic violence in November of 2018, the 49ers decided to release Foster after he was suspended for the rest of the season.
While Foster was claimed off waivers from the 49ers by the Washington Football Team, a torn ACL and LCL in May of 2019 interrupted his career. Upon his attempted return from those injuries in 2020, he wasn’t able to regain his form during that summer and Washington placed him on their Reserve/Injured list that fall. His time in Washington ended after the 2020 season without playing a single game for the franchise.
While Foster has since had workouts with a few NFL teams, none of them ever materialized into him signing an NFL contract and this past January he decided to take the USFL route by signing with the Maulers.
For the 2023 season with the Maulers, Foster registered 53 total tackles, three for losses, half a sack, and one interception. Here is what Pro Football Focus had to say about his 2023 season.
“Foster returned in Week 6 from a two-week layoff due to injury and left no doubt about his status as one of the USFL’s best linebackers. Over that span, the former NFL first-round pick recorded three quarterback pressures, eight tackles and three stops in run defense, and only five catches allowed in coverage. Overall, he was the league’s lone linebacker to play 150-plus snaps and earn a 90.0-plus overall grade.”
So, will Foster get an NFL contract now that the USFL has wrapped their season? Odds are good that will happen. Will, however, the Steelers be the team that ultimately signs Foster?
While Foster signing with the Steelers is plausible, it’s important to keep in mind that the team already has quite a full depth chart at the inside linebacker position. Most recently, the Steelers signed free agent inside linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski after the team’s mandatory minicamp ended. Additionally, the Steelers inside linebacker room also includes the likes of Cole Holcomb, Elandon Roberts, Mark Robinson, Tanner Muse, and Chapelle Russell. Of those six inside linebackers, Russell is probably the most expendable one if Foster were to be signed.
The good news when it comes to Foster possibly signing with the Steelers is that he would be uber-cheap. After all, the Steelers aren’t going to sign him for more than the minimum.
We should find out in the next few weeks if Foster will have another shot with an NFL team. While I wouldn’t bet on that team being the Steelers, such a signing is not unthinkable just the same. In short, I see where Williams’ head is at when it comes to him thinking that Foster will soon land with the Steelers.