There was a strong sense of shock and dismay that Washington claimed troubled linebacker Reuben Foster on waivers this week, hours after his latest arrest on domestic violence charges. The Redskins were the only team to place a wavier claim, surprising even many close to the 2017 first-round pick, who expected he would be out of football until his legal matters were resolved.
Skins team president Bruce Allen had final football say over the controversial move, and Foster, who was suspended for the start of this season for a domestic violence arrest last year, would not have been able to join the roster without the consent of owner Dan Snyder. The team has been ridiculous for the ham-handed way in which it has addressed the signing – first with a press release asserting the team's former Alabama teammates of Foster were a driving force in the signing (since amended) and some of the remarks made by general manager Doug Williams this week as well.
But within the NFL, the move is being viewed as the work of Allen and Snyder, with other teams baffled as to why they would make a claim for a player who, regardless of what is found to have occurred in a hotel room in Tampa last week, was clearly going to be unable to play this season while the incident is investigated, and with so little concrete information available at the time the 49ers placed Foster on waivers. Foster ended up on the Commissioner's Exempt List on Monday; he cannot play or practice while on it. The 49ers announced their release of Foster within hours of his arrest at their team hotel last weekend.
"I really can't figure it out," said one NFL general manager. "Whatever you think of the player, and his impact, and even if you think this situation may not be what it seems on the surface, why would you claim him now? We were shocked that anyone claimed him."
Another NFL GM said: "I wouldn't even present it to my owner. Maybe once we know the outcome of the investigation. Maybe as a free agent down the road once he's cleared waivers. But I didn't even think about claiming him. I couldn't believe they did."
Another prominent team executive said: "What do they gain by doing this now? It reflects poorly on the entire league. It makes all of us look bad. They said in their own press release he might not ever play a snap for them. What's the point? I'm kind of disgusted by it."
Foster will remain on the Exempt List while the matter is reviewed and, as someone who previously violated the personal conduct policy, he could face severe discipline. Per the NFL's reworked domestic violence policy, in the aftermath of the Ray Rice video being released, it has vowed repeated offenses could disqualify a player from ever playing again, but that policy has yet to be enforced as originally written, with a first offense mandating at least a six-game suspension.
Previous felony assault charges against Foster were dropped in the spring after Elissa Ennis recanted her allegations and the judge ruled there was insufficient evidence to move forward with a trial. His felony charge of illegal possession of a firearm was reduced to a misdemeanor. Ennis is the alleged victim in the incident from Saturday night in Tampa.