It doesn’t look as though it will be anytime soon.
After Tuesday’s NFL transactions report was released, showing Foster going to the Redskins, the league announced the linebacker had been placed on the Commissioner Exempt List.
The NFL Player Personnel Policy Manual describes the Commissioner Exempt List as “a special player status available to clubs only in unusual circumstances. The list includes those players who have been declared by the commissioner to be temporarily exempt from counting within the active-list limit. Only the commissioner has the authority to place a player on the exempt list; clubs have no such authority, and no exemption, regardless of circumstances, is automatic. The commissioner also has the authority to determine in advance whether a player’s time on the exempt list will be finite or will continue until the commissioner deems the exemption should be lifted and the player returned to the active list.”
An NFL release on Tuesday evening elaborated on the restrictions placed on Foster while the league continues to review his situation.
“A player who is placed on the Commissioner Exempt List may not practice or attend games,” the statement read, “but with the club’s permission, he may be present at the club’s facility on a reasonable basis for meetings, individual workouts, therapy and rehabilitation, and other permitted non-football activities.”
Doug Williams, the senior vice president of player personnel for Washington, released a statement, too. It also seemed to indicate that Foster would not play until his latest legal trouble had been resolved.
“Reuben will have to go through numerous steps, including the full legal process, an investigation and potential discipline from the NFL,” Williams said, “as well as meetings with counselors associated with the team before he will ever have the opportunity to wear the burgundy and gold”
The San Francisco 49ers waived Foster after he was arrested at the team hotel on Saturday night and charged with one count of first-degree misdemeanor domestic violence.
The arrest was Foster’s third of 2018, and his second involving domestic violence, both with the same woman.
Elissa Ennis told Tampa Police that Foster had knocked her phone from her hand, pushed her in the chest and slapped her in the face on Saturday night, which got Foster booked into the Hillsborough County Jail.
On Feb. 11, Foster was arrested in Los Gatos, California, and charged with felony domestic violence, forcefully attempting to prevent a victim from reporting a crime and possession of an assault weapon. On May 23, a judge dismissed two of those charges after Ennis testified she made up her claims against Foster. The judge also reduced the weapons charge from a felony to a misdemeanor.
Foster also had been arrested in Tuscaloosa on Jan. 12 and charged with second-degree possession of marijuana. The marijuana charge was dismissed in May after Foster participated in a pretrial diversion program.
The NFL suspended Foster for the first two games of the 2018 regular season for violating the league’s Personal Conduct Policy and its Policy and Program on Substances of Abuse.
Unlike when he was suspended, Foster will continue to be paid during the regular season while on the Commissioner Exempt List.
Washington has seven Alabama alumni on its roster — defensive end Jonathan Allen, outside linebacker Ryan Anderson, safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, inside linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton and nose tackle Da’Ron Payne on the active roster and guard Arie Kouandjio and wide receiver Cam Sims on injured reserve.
All of the players were teammates of Foster’s at some point with the Crimson Tide.
“We decided to investigate the situation with Reuben further by claiming his rights after candid conversations with a number of his ex-Alabama teammates and current Redskins players who were overwhelmingly supportive of us taking this chance,” Williams said. “Nothing is promised to Reuben, but we are hopeful being around so many of his former teammates and friends will eventually provide him with the best possible environment to succeed both personally and professionally.”
Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.