Browns Eyeing Troubled Ex-49ers Linebacker, First-Round Bust: Report

Reuben Foster

Getty Former 49ers first-round pick Reuben Foster.

Former San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster’s attempt to return to the NFL has taken him to Cleveland.

Foster, who was cut by the 49ers in 2018 after a domestic violence arrest and later claimed by Washington, is expected to work out for the Cleveland Browns on Friday, September 17, according to ESPN’s Kimberley A. Martin.

USA Today confirmed the report shortly after ESPN.

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Foster Hasn’t Seen NFL Action Since 2018

Foster has also spent time with the New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars this month but has failed to land on an NFL roster since Washington waived him. The domestic violence charges were dismissed against Foster, “but he suffered a severe knee injury in his first practice with Washington in 2019 and has been out of action since that point,” as reported by NBC Sports.

NBC Sports Pro Football Talk reporter Josh Alper reported the connection between the 27-year-old linebacker and the team is Jason Tarver, who worked as Foster’s position coach during Foster’s 2017 rookie season and is currently on the Browns’ coaching staff.

The 6-foot-1, 228-pound linebacker came out of the University of Alabama rated as a first-round talent. He finished his rookie season with 72 combined tackles, 59 of which were solo takedowns, and a pass deflection in 10 games and 10 starts.

Pro Football Focus gave Foster an overall grade of 90.7 that season, which placed him first among all rookie linebackers and fourth among all linebackers, according to the football analytics website.

Domestic Violence Charge Wasn’t Only Mark on Record

Reuben Foster is getting another shot in Cleveland

GettyReuben Foster warms up prior to a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Levi’s Stadium in 2017 in Santa Clara, California.

Foster was suspended for two games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy in July 2018, his first offseason following his promising freshman campaign. The suspension stemmed from a weapons offense and a misdemeanor drug offense. But it was following another arrest in November of that year on a charge of domestic violence that Foster was released by the 49ers.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan stated at the time that the decision was made as the arrest and Foster’s previous issues made him “very hard to trust.”

Foster last played in an NFL game with the 49ers in 2018, as he never saw the field in Washington before he was waived.

The Browns could be working the linebacker out to potentially add depth. Browns linebacker Mack Wilson landed on the injury report this week with a quad injury.

“I’m fine at the linebacker position,” Browns defensive coordinator Joe Woods said on September 16 when asked whether he’s happy with the position group as it relates to Foster’s scheduled workout.

Talent was never the issue for Foster. Before he was taken in the first round, he was a consensus All-American in high school and regarded as the best linebacker prospect of his class before committing to Alabama, where he played from 2014 to 2016. After his final season for the Crimson Tide, Foster was awarded the Butkus Award, which is given to the nation’s best linebacker.

The NFL suspended Foster for the first two games of the 2018 season for violating its policies on personal conduct and substance abuse. He pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor weapons charge. A misdemeanor marijuana possession charge against him was dropped, as was the domestic violence charge against him.

While other teams have kicked the tires on Foster, he’s never played a regular season snap anywhere other than San Francisco.

Foster has played 16 NFL games, all with the 49ers, and has compiled 101 tackles, seven quarterback hits and two passes defensed.

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