|Everyone in Houston, including Foster, should be celebrating on Monday. (Getty Images)|
Arian Foster, the NFL's leading rusher in 2010 and a restricted free agent to be, was priority No. 1 on the Texans offseason to-do list. Houston can put a check by his name, as they've extended the running back for the next five years.
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That news, originally reported by John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, was confirmed by Mike McCartney, Foster's agent. Foster's contract is reportedly worth $43.5 million over the life of the deal, with a guaranteed $20.75 million. The running back will also reportedly make $30 million over the first three years of the contract.
As McClain noted, it is indeed a "major coup" for both the Texans and Foster. Foster told CBSSports.com at the Super Bowl that he "100 percent" wanted to be back with the Texans.
Houston's issue was that if they used the restricted free agent tender on Foster, a team with an extra first-round pick (hello, Cincinnati) could conceivably make him an offer and lure him away. Or, at the very least, force the Texans to match without a contract they didn't negotiate.
The Texans likely would've been forced to use the franchise tag on Foster, meaning he would get $7.7 million guaranteed. They're already hampered enough by salary-cap issues without loading that digit onto their balance sheet.
For Foster, the long-term money is big. He's the ultimate NFL success story, going from an undrafted free agent to the league's leading rusher in 2010. In 2011, Foster missed three starts because of an injury he suffered in the preseason, but he still managed to pile up over 1,200 yards.
He's a perfect fit in Gary Kubiak's offense, and by making a deal with Foster now, the Texans essentially own his rights until he's 30, when most running backs careers begin to trend downhill.
Now comes the interesting part: how will Foster's contract affect the rest of the running-back market? Foster's deal is very similar to that of DeAngelo Williams (Williams got $43 million over five years with $21 million guaranteed) which is great news for guys like Ray Rice and Matt Forte.
Rice reportedly wanted "Adrian Peterson money" but that wasn't happening. But contracts similar to what Williams got weren't out of the question, even though Williams contract really seemed to throw the market out of whack relative to the Panthers running back's value. Now Foster's deal only solidifies the market: Five years, $43 million and $20 million guaranteed is a starting point for guys like Rice and Forte going forward.
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