The days of Arian Foster dominating opposing defenses as a member of the Houston Texans are over. Per reports, the Texans have officially moved on from their star running back, cutting his $6.5 million salary off of the 2016 books on Wednesday.

The writing had been on the wall in regards to Foster’s fate in Houston, as he missed a combined 11 games over the 2013 and 2014 seasons and then entered last season with a severe groin injury. After missing the first three weeks of the 2015 campaign, Foster returned to the field but never regained his previous form, failing to average even 3.4 yards per carry in any of the four games he appeared in. The end arrived in week seven against the Miami Dolphins, when Foster tore his Achilles tendon and was lost for the remainder of the season.

Texans owner Bob McNair went public about the team’s issues at running back, saying the team needed to “get our running game going again”. While never specifically stating that Foster would be cut following his devastating injury, McNair suggested the team would be “working on things”, while reports quickly emerged after the regular season that Foster would not be back with the team in 2016.

Replacing a Star

It was safe to say Foster was going to be a cap casualty with a hefty $6.5 million due to him, but even on top of that, Houston has and still does appear prepared to completely move on at the position. With pedestrian talents such as Chris Polk, Alfred Blue and Jonathan Grimes slated to take over, the Texans would be wise to look for help via free agency or the 2016 NFL Draft. That could lead to Houston eyeing rookie rushers like Derrick Henry or Ezekiel Elliott, while big name free agents such as Doug Martin, Matt Forte and Lamar Miller could quickly become appealing.

The draft remains Houston’s most likely path to their next starting running back, as they just experienced what it was like to pay a rusher big money and watch it blow up in their face.

The good news is the Texans already know they can win without Foster holding their offense hostage. Thanks to a borderline elite defense and star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, the Texans claimed the AFC South divisional title and made the playoffs last year. They’ll still surely need to improve at running back (and elsewhere), but the loss of Foster does not send the Texans reeling heading into 2016.

Foster’s Future

Foster fully intends to continue his playing career, but at 29 years old he comes with serious baggage with a long history of lower leg injuries – specifically last year’s brutal Achilles tear. An injury of that magnitude is extremely difficult to overcome for any player, let alone an aging and banged up running back approaching the age of 30. If healthy, however, Foster will undoubtedly still have his suitors on the open market. Foster will be looking a steep downgrade in pay, but running back-needy teams like the Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks could potentially kick the tires this summer.

While this isn’t the exit Foster probably dreamed of, he leaves the only NFL team he’s ever known with four 1,200+ rushing yardage campaigns and 69 total touchdowns.

Star Casualties

Foster is the latest (and biggest) star player to hit the open market, but he’s far from the only one. The Atlanta Falcons recently parted with veteran wide receiver Roddy White after 11 seasons, the New Orleans Saints cut ties with receiver Marques Colston, the Buffalo Bills released defensive end Mario Williams and the New England Patriots cut ties with wide receiver Brandon LaFell. With the 2016 NFL Free Agency period right around the corner, we can expect a few more big names to be cut loose over the next week.

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