Earlier this week, the San Francisco 49ers announced that they were releasing Reuben Foster, the linebacker who was their first-round pick in 2017. The release came after Foster was arrested on domestic violence charges at the team hotel on Saturday night when the team was in Tampa to play the Buccaneers the next day.
The arrest appeared to represent the last chance for Foster, who had also been arrested for domestic violence in February of this year. The alleged victim, Foster’s girlfriend, later recanted the charges on the witness stand, although the arrest Saturday reportedly involved the same victim as the first case. Foster, in his brief NFL career, has also been arrested for marijuana possession and faced a weapons charge, to which he pleaded no contest.
But just days after the Saturday arrest, Foster had a new team. The Washington Redskins on Tuesday claimed Foster on waivers.
“Today we have claimed the rights to LB Reuben Foster,” Washington’s senior vice president of player personnel Doug Williams said in a statement issued by the team via Twitter. “The Redskins fully understand the severity of the recent allegations made against Reuben. “If true, you can be sure these allegations are nothing our organization would ever condone.”
Williams went on to promise that Foster would not play for the team until after an investigation is completed and discipline (or lack thereof) is assessed by the NFL, making it highly unlikely that Foster will suit up for the Redskins this season. He added that the move was made in consultation with friends of Foster’s, including college teammates at Alabama, who currently play for Washington and had urged the organization to make the move.
A statement from the Washington Redskins Senior Vice President of Player Personnel Doug Williams: pic.twitter.com/zdxA8hmWtb— Washington Redskins (@Redskins) November 27, 2018
Fans of Washington, including several replying to the organization’s tweet of the announcement, expressed their displeasure with the signing, with some fans vowing to no longer support the team.
It’s not unprecedented for professional sports teams to sign players who have been arrested for terrible crimes, as Michael Vick returned to the NFL after serving prison time for running a dog-fighting ring and played several more years in the league, for three different teams. It is rare, however, for a team to pick up a player just days after a domestic violence arrest.
The decision to pick up Foster, the Washington Post reported, was recommended by Redskins team president Bruce Allen. Allen is the same executive who has been adamant that the team will never sign another former 49ers player, Colin Kaepernick.