With the 2015 NFL Draft quickly approaching, the distractions and noise surrounding...
Cleveland Browns Need to Look Into Ben Tate After Trading Trent Richardson
The Cleveland Browns shocked the NFL on Wednesday by dealing the No. 3 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, Trent Richardson, to the Indianapolis Colts for a 2014 first-round draft pick. The backlash from Browns fans has been, well, as you would expect it after “giving” up in their eyes on the player that was supposed to be the face of their franchise for the next eight to 10 years.
There has already been plenty of analysis by those in the national media on the trade—mostly great for the Browns—so I will not bore you with more reasons why this move should be applauded by a front office that is not afraid to make a bold move. In fact, if Richardson would have continued to play the way he has over the first two games of the season—albeit with just 31 carries in two games—the team may have been lucky to grab a second or third-round pick a few weeks from now.
With Richardson now gone, the Cleveland Browns front office has already kicked the wheels on finding another back to add to the rotation. With Chris Ogbonnaya (currently the team’s starting fullback) and Baltimore Raven’s cast-off Bobby Rainey as the only available options on the depth chart, the Browns are rumored to be bringing in NFL veteran Willis McGahee for a physical on Thursday, and plan to sign him if all things go well. If things do not go well, team executive Joe Banner told members of the media on Wednesday night that the team has a number of options for the short-term.
While the Browns and Banner currently are looking at short-term options, one name popped out when looking at next year’s potential free agent class of running backs for a long-term option—Houston Texans backup Ben Tate.
After missing out on Tate in the 2010 NFL Draft and trading up for Montario Hardesty just one pick later in the second round, the Browns should do their due diligence this season to see if they can pry him away from the Texans. Tate has made it very clear he does not wish to be the plan B to Arian Foster last week, stating, “I would be lying to you if I told you that I embraced the complement role to someone else. That’s not why I wanted to be in the NFL. That’s not my dream to complement someone else. That’s not my attitude or why I work out is to complement someone else.”
It may not be likely the Texans would trade their safety net for Foster and his injury issues, but with Tate set to hit the 2014 free agent market as an unrestricted free agent, they may be enticed by getting some value before his departure. After all, Tate is likely one of the potential prized running gems of the 2014 class, with Oakland’s Darren McFadden and Jacksonville’s Maurice Jones-Drew as other potential big-name free agent backs on the market.
When Tate was drafted by the Texans, they had big plans for the Auburn product. However, a broken ankle would sideline him prior to the beginning of the preseason. The rest, so to speak, is history—as Foster burst onto the scene in his second season as an undrafted free agent and rushed for 1,616 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Even with Foster emerging out of nowhere, Tate came back and put up great numbers in 2011. He rushed the ball 175 times for 942 yards (5.4 yards per carry average) and four touchdowns. Many thought he was poised to dominate with Foster in a two-back system, but Tate would play just 11 games in 2012 and rack up 279 yards on 65 attempts with two touchdowns
At 5’11” and 217 pounds, Tate is already off to a good start in 2013 spelling Foster. In two games he has rushed the ball 18 times for 148 yards, amassing an insane 8.2 yards per carry average. In fact, for his career Tate is rushing at a 5.3 yards per carry clip—the recently traded Richardson left Cleveland with a career average of 3.5 yards per carry.
Targeting Tate—whether it is right now or in free agency—should be priority number one for the Cleveland Browns front office. Tate is hungry for a starting job, has a rare blend of speed (timed as low as 4.34 leading up to the 2010 NFL Draft) and has proven to be productive at the NFL level. With 10 picks in next year’s draft, I’m sure the Browns could put together a package with literally no chance of his return to Houston in 2014.
The current focus in Berea is obviously on 2014, and what better way to enter the rest of your 2013 season and the future than with a 25-year old back like Tate already signed to a brand new contract. It is always better to beat the rush, no matter how much money you have to spend, so why not give the Texans a call to see if Banner and Michael Lombardi can make another deal this week?
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