Foster’s playing status remains undetermined, as he will need to be cleared by the NFL before he is allowed to return to the field. He has been placed on paid leave as the league conducts its own investigation into the late-November incident.
“We are monitoring all developments in the matter which continues to be under review by the league,” an NFL spokesman said in a written statement.
The Redskins claimed Foster off waivers after he was arrested in Tampa on Nov. 24. It was his second arrest for domestic violence in 2018, and while those first charges, filed in California, were also dropped, the Niners released him the morning after the second incident. Two days later, Washington was the only team to put in a waiver claim for Foster. The NFL immediately placed him on the commissioner’s exempt list while the league conducted an investigation into the Florida arrest. The NFL’s personal conduct policy empowers the league to discipline a player without a criminal charge if it believes such measures are warranted.
Adante Pointer, the lawyer for Foster’s accuser and ex-girlfriend, Elissa Ennis, said authorities in Tampa informed him Wednesday of their decision to drop the charge.
“It’s disappointing, it’s a surprise, and it’s just another slap in the face for my client,” Pointer said in a phone interview.
The Redskins were heavily criticized for claiming Foster so soon after a domestic violence arrest. Doug Williams, the team’s senior vice president for player personnel, released a statement on the night Washington claimed Foster, saying the team would conduct an investigation into the incidents. He later apologized for making insensitive comments when trying to defend the move in a radio interview.
Team decision-makers were said to be divided over whether to claim Foster. An NFL official with knowledge of the Redskins’ deliberations about claiming Foster said team President Bruce Allen was behind the move, although Williams and Coach Jay Gruden later said the choice was widely supported among Washington’s top officials.
After being placed on paid leave by the NFL, Foster was allowed to attend meetings and work out at the Redskins' facility but not practice or play in or attend games. He has a locker and a nameplate in Washington’s locker room, with the jersey No. 50.
Through a spokesman, the Redskins declined to comment on the dropped charges against Foster.
The Redskins have long been intrigued by Foster, who was the 49ers’ first-round draft pick in 2017. He starred at Alabama, where he played with several current Washington players and was considered one of the best linebackers in college football. In his rookie year with San Francisco, he performed well, totaling 72 total tackles and a pass deflection in just 10 games.
But Foster’s on-field play has been overshadowed by several off-field incidents. He was sent home from the 2017 draft combine after he got into an argument with a hospital worker during a routine medical exam. Last winter, he was arrested in Tuscaloosa, Ala., for marijuana possession. The most serious allegations against him, however, are the charges of domestic violence in which he was twice arrested, in 2018, for allegedly hitting the same woman, Ennis.
In April, prosecutors in Santa Clara, Calif., filed felony domestic violence charges against him only to later drop those charges when Ennis testified that she lied to police about Foster attacking her. The NFL suspended him for the season’s first two games for violations of the league’s personal conduct policy.
His second arrest was at the Tampa hotel on the night before the 49ers played the Buccaneers, after Ennis alleged Foster hit her and knocked a cellphone out of her hand. The Niners released him the next morning.
Pointer, Ennis’s attorney, said the fact that his client testified last year to falsifying a previous domestic violence accusation against Foster — a claim she recently recanted — probably figured into the decision by prosecutors to not move forward with the case. Ennis will cooperate with the NFL’s investigation of the incident, her lawyer said.
"She’s going to have to stand up for herself even when others are unwilling to do it,” Pointer said.
A spokeswoman for the state attorney’s office in Hillsborough County, which made the decision to drop the case, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.
Mark Maske, Will Hobson and Kareem Copeland contributed to this report.