The top story in the world of the New England Patriots this week was Deflategate-related. Shocker.
Tom Brady and the NFLPA filed their appeal, Monday, for a second hearing by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. If the hearing is not granted, Brady could take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Which begs the question, when will Deflategate end? Difficult to say. What we do know is that Brady won’t go down without a fight. That became even more evident with Monday’s news of his appeal.
But let's step away from the wild and crazy world of Deflategate for a moment. When a four-time Pro Bowl free-agent running back was seen at Fenway Park over the weekend, that should also qualify as news.
Arian Foster was released by the Houston Texans in March. He played in only four games last year as a torn Achilles tendon ended his season early.
It wasn’t long ago that Foster was considered one of the elite running backs in the NFL. So when he shows his face in Boston, it’s news. And like it or not, it’s Patriots-related.
Perhaps turning a Red Sox game into a potential meeting with Bill Belichick at Gillette Stadium is a stretch. Full disclosure, I also believed that Rajon Rondo’s handshake with Kevin Love at Fenway a few years back would lead to the Celtics trading for Love. I was wrong.
So linking Foster’s attendance at Fenway last weekend to an offseason Patriots acquisition wouldn’t exactly be based on facts.
That said, let’s talk about the facts, shall we? Foster turns 30 in August. He rushed for 1,246 yards in 13 games in 2014. While the Achilles injury is concerning, Foster has never really been known for his speed. I’ve always looked at him as a find-the-holes type of back, who, when he does find the hole (and he usually does), becomes an elusive downfield runner.
As I mentioned, he’s a free agent. And the Patriots are always open to bringing in a hungry veteran who’s looking for a new home.
Now, there was no report of Foster meeting with the Patriots while he was in town. But, I find it hard to believe that there was no contact between the two sides. Either way, the question has since been asked, “Should the Patriots attempt to sign Foster?”
The answer is simple. Yes, you absolutely take a flier on the guy if you’re the Pats.
There’s just one problem. We don’t know what Foster wants. And that’s all that really matters.
It’s a no-brainer for the Patriots to have interest in Foster. But just like everyone in Foxboro will tell you, there’s a sign on the wall when you walk into Gillette: "If you don’t want to be here, you don’t have to be."
So instead of asking if the Patriots should sign Foster, perhaps we should be wondering what it is exactly that Foster wants?
Is he looking to win a championship? And is he willing to take less money to do so?
I get it. Foster isn’t going to break the bank with whoever he signs with. But I’m willing to bet that multiple teams will show interest in his services, and the last thing the Patriots are going to do is waste their time in a bidding war for a 30-year-old running back who’s coming off a serious injury. That’s just not the Patriot Way.
If Foster wants to be a part of something special and not go to the highest bidder, then this past weekend won’t be his last trip to Fenway. But that’s on him, not the Patriots.
We know how Belichick handles his business. The question is, how will Foster choose to handle his?
The Patriots could use him, but they don’t need him. Maybe Foster will feel like he needs the Patriots in order to get a championship. Maybe he’ll take a little more money to elsewhere.
Either way, it feels good to step out of the world of Deflategate. Even if it’s just for a few minutes.