If it wasn’t clear before the 2011 season that Arian Foster is the motor that propels Houston’s offense, he made his statement by rushing for 1,224 yards while adding 617 yards through the air and accounting for 30 percent of the Texans’ offense, all while missing three games.

He also did that with the passing game often presenting a minimal threat to opposing defenses due to crippling injuries. Both Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart went down for the season, and Andre Johnson missed nine games. So Foster deserved a long-term commitment, and now he’s received one.

With the deadline to franchise players approaching this afternoon at 4 p.m. ET, the Texans reached an agreement with Foster this morning, according to a report from John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. Foster will receive a five-year deal worth $43.5 million, $20.75 million of which is guaranteed. That puts Foster alongside Chris Johnson in terms of running back contract value, with $30 million coming over the first three years according to NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora.

Foster is 25 years old, and as we wrote last week regarding Ray Rice and his search for long-term security in Baltimore, sadly 25 is already halfway to the running back death age, even though by normal human standards, Foster and Rice are still kids. Hell, some parents are still battling to boot their children out of the house at their 25th birthday.

The difference between Rice’s situation and Foster’s in Houston lies in the constant injury concerns that hover around Johnson, Houston’s stud receiver who’s still one of the game’s elite talents at the position. But at 30 years old he’s no young buck anymore, and he’s missed 12 games over the past two years. The lack of trust in Johnson’s ability to remain in his starting position on Sundays significantly raised the need to secure Foster.

With the franchise tag free for use elsewhere, the Texans can now turn their attention to Pro Bowl center Chris Myers. And don’t even think about Mario Williams. The tag price for defensive ends is $22 million, and prior to signing Foster Houston was tight against the cap, with just about $1 million in space. As a center, Myers is much more affordable at $10 million, which is a far more realistic position for the tag to be used to extend negotiations, and then reach a long-term deal with a better cap value.

The Texans will either sign Williams long term sometime in the next week, or let him walk. Doing anything else would be foolish.