Editor’s note: From now until the first practice of training camp at Saint Vincent College, the Trib will be running through the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 90-man roster, assessing each player’s outlook for the 2019 season. The breakdown will go through the roster in mostly-alphabetical order, (at least) two per day, between June 14 and July 26.
G RAMON FOSTER
Experience: 11th season
Contract status: $2.675 million cap hit in 2019, part of new 2-year deal
2019 outlook: Every time you think Foster’s long and distinguished Steelers career might be coming to an end, he proves those predictions wrong and returns for another season under a new multiyear contract. Foster’s latest deal (two years, $8.25 million) is further proof of the organizational respect and trust that he has from the coaching staff. An undrafted player who has lasted more than a decade in the NFL, if Foster completes this contract he will begin to approach the periphery of the Steelers record book for service time. So it is with great reservation that it’s asked – again – if this is his final season. Foster will be 34 by the time the playoffs start, and backup B.J. Finney’s contract expires soon thereafter. Foster’s cap hit goes up dramatically in 2020 ($5.575 million), too. That said, Foster has started all but nine of the Steelers’ past 147 games (including playoffs). As he has been for years, he’ll reliably hold down his familiar left guard spot again in 2019.
Longest-tenured athletes on Pittsburgh pro sports teams (debut):
1. Ben Roethlisberger (Sept 04)
2. Sidney Crosby (Oct 05)
3. Evgeni Malkin (Oct 06)
4. Kris Letang (Oct 06)
5. @RamonFoster (Sept 09)
6. Maurkice Pouncey (9-12-10)
7. Antonio Brown (9-19-10)
8. Josh Harrison(May'11)
— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) May 23, 2018
DL LAVON HOOKS
Experience: On offseason rosters and practice squads since 2015; no regular-season games
Contract status: $495,000 cap hit in 2019, under team control for four accrued seasons
2019 outlook: Hooks is entering his fifth NFL training camp, his fourth with the Steelers. At 27, he’s repeatedly shown enough ability to stick around, though the defensive line depth chart has been tough to crack. With the departure of L.T. Walton this year, a spot is open for Hooks to seize – but he still has to beat out, among others, sixth-round draft pick Isaiah Buggs. Hooks has the size and pedigree to contribute, and at this point he has the experience, too, even if it’s not in regular-season NFL games. A might be a little overstating it to say that a spot on the 53-man roster is Hooks’ to lose – but it wouldn’t be surprising if Hooks earned one. If not, there’s always – believe it or not – another year of practice-squad eligibility.
This will be DT Lavon Hooks’ fourth NFL training camp, his third with the Steelers, but he hasn’t appeared in a regular-season pro game https://t.co/RvrNaxG8NY
— Tribune-ReviewSports (@TribSports) July 24, 2018