The Green Bay Packers are adding a new deep-ball receiving threat to their arsenal one day after cutting four wide receivers from their 53-man active roster.
According to Matt Zenitz of AL.com, the Packers signed former Buffalo Bills wideout Robert Foster to their practice squad Sunday afternoon, adding the third-year veteran to a reserve mix of receiving talent that will also include Reggie Begelton and Darrius Shepherd.
Foster had looked like a potential breakout candidate coming into last season after racking up 27 receptions for 541 yards and three touchdowns as an undrafted rookie in 2018, including three 100-yard performances in the Bills’ final seven games. The brakes were slammed on him in his second season, though, as he caught just three of his 18 targets and was quickly buried on Buffalo’s depth chart.
The Bills then acquired Stefon Diggs in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings this offseason and added Gabriel Davis and Isaiah Hodgins through the 2020 NFL draft, making things even murkier for Foster’s future. Per Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, the Bills had even been shopping around Foster in trade talks leading up to cutdown weekend.
While a trade didn’t happen, the Bills and Packers essentially swapped wide receivers with Buffalo expected to sign Jake Kumerow — a slightly surprising cut in Green Bay on Saturday — for its own 16-player practice squad in 2020. The 28-year-old wideout caught 20 passes for 322 yards and two touchdowns over 19 games with the Packers.
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Foster Has Some Experience Against the NFC North
Foster has some details in his history that should inspire some confidence, like that he comes from Nick Saban’s prolific Alabama program. Or how, in the first game after Foster was activated from the Bills’ practice squad as a rookie, he caught three passes for 105 yards in a dominant win over the New York Jets.
Foster also clocked 4.41 seconds during his 40-yard dash at the 2018 NFL Combine to finish faster than all but 15 players in attendance. Marquez Valdes-Scantling (4.37) and D.J. Chark (4.34) were the only two wideouts who recorded better times.
But one thing that could earn some early credit for Foster with Packers fans is his brief-but-effective record against their rival NFC North teams. Foster got to play hero against the Detroit Lions in Week 14 of his rookie season when he collected a career-high 108 yards on four catches, including one that went for a 42-yard, go-ahead touchdown.
He was much less effective earlier in the season in games against both Minnesota and Green Bay, playing roughly half as many offensive snaps and only getting two targets in each game, but he did snag another touchdown reception from A.J. McCarron against the Chicago Bears during his rookie preseason. Surely Packers fans can appreciate anything coming at the expense of their biggest rival.
Could Packers Move Foster to Active Roster in 2020?
Maybe it’s bold and foolish thinking, but the Packers could potentially make use of all three of their practice-squad receivers throughout the 2020 season with less-restrictive rules on how teams can transfer players between the active roster due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Packers saw some encouraging things from both Begelton and Darrius Shepherd — a onetime member of the active roster — during this summer’s camp and likely didn’t make the choice to keep Malik Taylor over them lightly. The opportunity would now seem Taylor’s to lose, but don’t be surprised if the Packers keep their reserves under close observation.
In Foster’s case, it is difficult to discern where he could fall in the Packers’ ranks. On one hand, his status as a newcomer would seem to put him last behind everyone else the Packers have had the opportunity to test, but he is also one of just three Packers receivers to have caught for more than 500 yards in a single season — Adams and MVS are the others.