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Browns ink Ben Tate to two-year deal

Biyeb_bCEAAx6HD.jpg-large

Biyeb_bCEAAx6HD.jpg-large

Ben Tate’s trip to Cleveland wasn’t all for naught. While the free agent running back spent much of the last 48 hours pandering to fans—his tweet of a lit-up Terminal Tower was just the tip of the iceberg—he will leave Berea with a two-year contract that will all but guarantee him as the feature running back of the Browns.

Speculation swirled regarding Tate’s situation as he was reportedly a physical away as recent as Saturday morning. Tate is coming off broken ribs and has battled other injuries in his four-year career, including a broken ankle that sidelined him his entire rookie season. FOX 8’s John Telich reports that the deal is performance-based, and Tate “must prove [himself] and will get paid.” Schefter reports that the deal is worth up to $7 million.

Tate is 25 years old and comes to Cleveland as the top-ranked free agent running back available. He has rushed for 1992 yards and 10 touchdowns, averaging 4.7 yards per carry for his career. Tate, who considers himself to be an elite rusher, has been primarily a back-up to Houston’s Arian Forster for the past three seasons. In 2013, he ranked eighth amongst running backs in Pro Football Focus’ “elusive rating,” causing 43 missed tackles in 215 total touches.

Tate joins linebacker Karlos Dansby, safety Donte Whitner, tight end Jim Dray and cornerback Isaiah Trufant as those added in the first week of free agency.

[Related: Video: Ben Tate highlights]

Photo: Ben Tate/Twitter

  • War Damn Eagle.

  • Eric G

    Finally!

  • saggy

    I like it. Browns seem like they have some good veteran pieces in place to draft a young QB. For those wanting Watkins, I think QB seems like a better fit, if they don’t trade down.

  • Scott Johnson

    Wouldn’t even be mad if they traded down a few spots and took Evans

  • humboldt

    A rare pipeline we can all get behind!

  • James Workman

    I’m very happy with these move, especially with Tate’s contract. Baby steps boys, baby steps.

  • EdgewaterJoe

    Still need to draft an RB, and I still wouldn’t cry if they grabbed Carlos Hyde or Tre Mason …

  • Wow

    Look what happens when competent people run the team. Great signing.

  • markn95

    I’m very happy about the signing and surprised at the number of years and incentive-laden aspect of the contract. A lot of national guys were predicting Tate would break the bank, even in this passing-obsessed era of the NFL. Other teams must not have been offering the moon and the stars based on what the Browns paid for Tate. Now, it could be that the incentives in this contract are extremely lucrative, but as a Browns fan, I’d be more than happy if Tate meets those targets :).

  • if we go the ‘short cornerback’ route on day 3, i vote for chris davis.

  • RGB

    Nice pick up.
    Soooo, about those guards…

  • mgbode

    wha? you want holes for Tate to run through?

    (note: Tate is a “reader” as he looks for the hole, if there is no hole, he’s not the type to typically make his own. He’s a tough runner, but he needs to see that hole to get going)

  • Not a single complaint about this move. Tate is a nice player if he can stay healthy, and a huge upgrade from last season. And we got him with an incentive-based contract that maintains our cap flexibility? About as close to ideal as it gets.

  • Blanka
  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Watkins would still be my guy if they stay at #4 there are other QB options available in this draft plus I think they’ll sign a veteran QB regardless. I think as soon as Houston cuts Schaub he’s the most likely candidate to go with Hoyer and a rookie QB drafted other then at #4 overall.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Agreed if they trade down out of #4 and Watkins isn’t available I’d love Evans with whatever draft pick they traded down to from #4.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Agreed I think they will draft another RB anyways. I don’t expect Hyde but you never know. There are a number of collegiate RBs who would make for a nice pairing with Tate. Don’t forget Dion Lewis will be back. He’s the perfect third down/scat back to compliment Tate and whoever else.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    The next biggest need besides CB left IMO. I said they needed two before Lauvao left. Hopefully Mack can be brought back otherwise add center to the need list as well.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    2 yeas $7M is a steal even for a guy like Tate who has a lengthy injury history. Hopefully they draft another RB as well.

  • woofersus

    I actually think Evans and Watkins are nearly equal in my mind, but very different types. If we wanted a big target with a huge “catch radius” who will win the physical battle with the larger CB’s of the league, he’s the guy. If you want a dynamic playmaker who can make big YAC numbers, it’s Watkins. Given Gordon is a bigger guy, I lean towards Watkins, but I think they’re both elite talents.

  • James Workman

    Indeed. Exactly what I was saying with Tates contract. I view it as one of the rare cases where a deal is good for both sides. He should be happy with the money and the feature status yet still short enough he should be motivated to prove his worth and earn a big extension/contract.

  • James Workman

    This is what has me spinning about this draft. Watkins is the clear top of the class at WR. Yet, everyone acknowledges WR to be the deepest position this year. I would be happy with Watkins at 4 or any number of receivers in the late 1st or 2nd. I hate to admit that i feel hopeful right now. The Browns have options.

  • Blackjeep

    If Watkins is gone at #4 and we trade down I hope they go for Greg Robinson OT. Lord knows we need help on the line.

  • Blackjeep

    I hope they can get Carlos Hyde. He would be a great addition.

  • Blackjeep

    I agree OLine needs attention, but what if they put Chris Ogbonnaya in as FB and block for him to make some holes too?

  • woofersus

    WR is deep this year, but there are only a couple of elite WR’s. If by some miracle Clowney fell to us it might be a tough decision to make, but the elite nature of the top WR’s in the draft combined with the fact that it also happens to be a position of need is a pretty strong argument for me. It’s not the only decision that makes sense, but it feels awfully good when I imagine it. 🙂

  • James Workman

    I might be over-thinking this but I don’t seem them complimenting each other very well. With that being said, talent should be able to trump any issues with “fit”. I see a pass catching 3rd down style back as a more natural pairing. Tates injury history is curious, as non-soft tissue injuries tend to more flukey than chronic. Still, a competent back-up of any type would be welcome.

  • James Workman

    I agree, I would be downright giddy with Watkins. However, when you factor position scarcity and see the depth at WR it makes sense to wait as well. That is of course contingent upon you getting value thats on par with Watkins at that first pick. As for there being only a couple of “elite” WR available, you can pretty much say the same about any position any given year. So I’m not sure how much weight I put on that. Yes, WR is a position of need, but we have a clear #1. Furthermore, WR is certainly not our only need and not the most pressing. What I’m saying is that I can envision several promising scenarios where the FO is able to address multiple needs through the draft. So essentially we are in agreement, lol. The Browns have options, and with that its easier to feel hopeful.

  • saggy

    One more thing to like about this signing: The guy actually seems excited to be in Cleveland.

  • WR is a deep position but the top of the class is potentially transcendent.

    however, i’ve yet to see a reason to take watkins ahead of the almost as fast, with equally good (if not better) hands but 3″ inches taller with 3″ longer arms and 3″ great vertical.

    mike evans gives you all of watkins except with a catch radius at least a foot greater.

    evans has moved up draft boards all off season and now he’s a concensus top 10. by draft day dont be surprised if he’s rated above watkins.

  • Petefranklin

    If they can get Woods later, I’d be all right with a QB @4 as long as his name isn’t Carr.

  • Petefranklin

    If Lewis blossoms this year we should compete for the division. There is no one on the offense who can help a QB more than a scat back when the play breaks down.

  • Petefranklin

    And this comes after a week of snow, right?

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Woods who? I don’t like a QB at #4 unless it’s Teddy Bridgewater and even them I’m hesitant. I was/am a Bridgewater fan but I think the Browns can find an answer later in the draft as opposed to using a top 4 overall selection. I’m kind of in the camp of Hoyer sign another veteran possibly Schaub and draft a rookie QB who doesn’t have to start from day one. But we’ll see what happens.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I don’t know if they are equal but as you said for being two very different physical specimens they are both dynamic. In other words I don’t think you could go wrong with either.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I’m hoping both Clowney and Manziel are gone by #4 but for two very different reasons. For Clowney it would be very tough for me to pass on him if he’s there although personally I favor addressing other areas of the team such as WR, OL, CB or LB. Manziel on the other hand I hope is gone because I don’t want to see him in Cleveland. I just think his risks far outweigh his rewards for a team like the Browns.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Move Schwartz to OG? I like Robinson but for me I’d prefer an OG who has been an OG all along. I think they could get by with Schwartz at RT for another season. Key words being I think.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Absolutely. I still think/hope they will draft another RB. That would give you a triumverant of Tate/Lewis/newest draftee.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I’ll just be happy to see Lewis survive the preseason. I don’t know how much blossoming he can do but before he got hurt a year ago I liked what I saw.

  • mgbode

    what if they get a real FB to create some holes instead?

  • mgbode

    I agree with you but Robinson sure looks special. That is where I am willing to make exceptions. When someone looks so good that it’s worth the risk on the other side (moving Mitchell). Also, the OGs in this class look good at the top of the list, but not special.

  • Toddyus

    This was my first thought when I saw this signing this weekend. Could all be for naught with the O-Line as it stands now…

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    It will be interesting to see how the first three selections go because someone between Manziel, Clowney and Robinson should still be available at #4. I’ve already conveyed my feelings on Manziel but the other two would be interesting and hard to pass up even though I still like Watkins.

  • Petefranklin

    BLOSSOM, like an Ohio tomato during a drought! HSPD!!