Despite the revolving door of executives that have been through Berea, one constant has appeared to be the team’s interest in long-time Houston Texans running back Ben Tate. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Tate, finally a free agent, is visiting with the Cleveland Browns today in hopes of landing a deal as the team’s featured back.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reporting free-agent RB Ben Tate is visiting #Browns today. Has been linked to CLE for a long time.
— Nate Ulrich (@NateUlrichABJ) March 12, 2014
Toby Gerhart (Jaguars) and Donald Brown (Chargers) both received contracts in the way of three years and $10.5 million, officially setting the bar in the backfield. Tate, despite seemingly been playing behind Arian Foster for most of the last decade, is still only 25 years old. There seems to be some sentiment that Tate, who believes he is an elite running back, could sign a short-term “prove it” deal that would allow him to show he can maintain a level of health requred for a large investment. Listening to Tate, however, it appears that he feels he is in line for one hell of a pay day.
“I think I can bring you an elite running back,” Tate recently told a Houston television station. “I’ve learned a lot being behind Arian. Definitely, when I’m healthy I think I’m an elite running back in this league, and I feel like I can show my abilities and my numbers and my play will speak for itself, and guys will be able to see that I am a guy who is a top-five running back in this league, which I believe once I get out there and get to show that on a consistent basis. That’s something I’m more excited for and something that I’m working hard this offseason just to prove my worth, that I am that person or that player that I think I am.”
When Tate came out in 2010,1 former Browns general manger Mike Lombardi wrote that Tate “has an ability to hit the hole with a burst and is a one-cut runner,” going so far as to predict the back would win 2010 Rookie of the Year2. Kyle Shanahan’s zone-blocking rushing attack has consistently churned out exciting levels of production and Tate appears to be an excellent fit. The Browns, after Tuesday’s spending spree, sit at roughly $39 million in available cap space for 2014.
Tate already has two IR stints in his four-year career, and has yet to survive a 16-game slate despite playing primarily as a backup. When he plays, however, he has proven to be more than servicable, aveeraging 4.3 yards per carry in 2013 despite some rib issues.
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