- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Washington Redskins agreed to a two-year contract Thursday with linebacker Mason Foster.

Foster, who spent the previous three seasons with Washington, re-signed with the Redskins months ahead of his scheduled free agency. Foster 28, appeared in five games for the Redskins this season, recording 31 tackles.

Foster’s new deal is worth $4 million over the two years and can reach $7 million in incentives, according to Foster’s agent.

The move helps give the Redskins some much needed stability at inside linebacker. The Redskins faced the possibility of losing both its opening-day starters — Foster and Zach Brown — in free agency. Washington cycled through five inside linebackers this season because of injuries.

Foster excelled next to Brown and was the play-caller for the Redskins defense as the mike linebacker. In Week 2, Foster recorded a game-sealing interception for Washington’s 27-20 win over the Los Angeles Rams — doing so with a dislocated shoulder.

But the injury ended up cutting Foster’s season short. After playing through pain for weeks, Foster was shutdown on Oct. 27 with a torn labrum. The Redskins placed him on injured reserve and Foster had surgery a few days later.

At the time, Foster created a mini-stir by tweeting his displeasure with the Redskins‘ front office and with being placed on IR. On Oct. 27, Foster tweeted “Lay everything on the line for someone … just to have that same person slap you in the face.” He added former general manager Scot McCloughan “wouldn’t have done me like that.”

Foster, though, ended up apologizing for the tweets and met face-to-face with the Redskins‘ brass the following day.

The wound healed quickly and when Foster announced the deal on Twitter, the linebacker tweeted, “this is my family and I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.”

Foster then called into 106.7 The Fan, saying he had “unfinished business” in Washington.

“I wanted to come back and really show what I can do in this defense and get some wins, man,” Foster said.”That’s really what it came down to. I want to play for (defensive coordinator Greg) Manusky and (coach) Jay [Gruden].”

The Redskins‘ defense made surprising strides in 2017, finishing the year ranked 11th in defensive DVOA. Foster played a part in that, but Washington also got solid contributions from a revamped interior line and better secondary play.

Last offseason, the Redskins committed heavily to upgrading the defense, signing two defensive linemen — Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain — and safety D.J. Swearinger. Six of their 10 draft picks were also defensive players, including first-round defensive lineman Jonathan Allen.

The defense also benefited from a change at the coordinator posiiton. Manusky, previously the linebackers coach, utilized a more aggressive scheme.

Foster said Manusky’s scheme played a factor in re-signing with the team early instead of testing the waters in free agency.

“This is the best fit for me,” Foster said.

The deal also gives Foster some security after coming off shoulder surgery. Foster said his shoulder is progressing nicely and he should be ready for OTAs in April.

Foster first joined the Redskins in September 2015 after being released by the Chicago Bears. He spent the first four seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who drafted him in the third round of the 2011 draft.

Gruden, meanwhile, told reporters at the Senior Bowl in Alabama that he wanted to bring back at least two of the Redskins‘ linebacking core. In addition to Brown, middle linebacker Will Compton is also a free agent.

Foster said he has talked with both Brown and Compton, and hopes they return.

“I’m excited,” Foster said. “I think we have good things ahead of us.”

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