We’ve had quite a few big signings so far since free agency began, but none of the top running backs (if you can call them that) have been plucked from the market, leaving Ben Tate as the number one name on the board, with the Cleveland Browns closest to signing him, and the New York Jets and Tennessee Titans very interested as well.
Tate is actually visiting with the Browns, which means that the most running back needy team (although the Browns need a lot of things) might sign Tate before they start to address other positions which they’re probably more concerned about like quarterback.
Tate isn’t going back to the Houston Texans, who aren’t going to pay him the #1 back money he’s looking for, and they’re not going to give him the touches he’s after. For the Browns and the Jets he can be a premier back getting A LOT of touches. For the Titans, who are figuring out how to get rid of Chris Johnson, Tate might be in a smaller role, but still carrying the ball 15 times a game or moe.
Tate carried the ball 181 times in 14 games last season, finishing with 771 yards and four touchdowns in a very depressing season for the Texans, collapsing from Super Bowl contenders into one of the worst teams in the league if not the worst of all.
Tate is the kind of back who seems to have the ability of being an every-down kind of running back. He had nice numbers in his rookie season and like Toby Gerhart, also looking for a new team, he seems to shine whenever the team decided to hand the ball to him consistently and make his runs an occasional thing.
Tate being the number one back in free agency might be telling regarding how deteriorated the appeal for the position is, but in a pass-happy league there’s still need for non-superstar running backs, and any team that signs Tate without going overboard on the contract will benefit from a talented and productive player.