The Browns have been trying their best to use the three running backs they have on the roster. Tate was the big offseason free agency signing, but the other two were outperforming him and so taking away reps. This wasn’t sitting well with Tate. On Tuesday, the team waived him.
Running back Ben Tate left the Houston Texans for one reason: He wanted to be a starter. Tate had some injury issues with Houston, but when he did get an opportunity to carry the football, he did very well. However, Arian Foster was ahead of him on the roster. Tate believed in his ability to be a starter and wasn’t shy about saying so, but no way was he better than Foster. So when his rookie contract ended, he left.
He signed with the Cleveland Browns who, in 2013, featured Willis McGahee at running back. Dark days indeed. Here, Tate faced no competition. That is, until the Browns moved up in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft to nab Terrance West.
Tate opened the season as the #1 running back, but was really only effective in the Browns win over the Tennessee Titans, where he rushed for 124 yards on 22 carries. The next week, in the rematch game with the Pittsburgh Steelers, he carried the ball 25 times, but only picked up 78 yards. After that, his carries dwindled, his frustration – when asked – was aired, and then came Sunday’s game against his former team when the Browns gave him two carries where he actually lost yards.
The fans had grown tired of him, preferring to see the rookies West and undrafted Isaiah Crowell. Tate just didn’t seem to get the ball upfield. He didn’t have the explosiveness that the other two had. Crowell had more yards rushing than did Tate, despite having 28 fewer carries. It only made sense that they turned him loose. It had to bother him and the guy wasn’t the best at hiding his emotions. Keeping him here, I assume, would have created friction in the locker room.
This is certainly not the end of Ben Tate’s career. While he was disappointing in Cleveland, he had some good years in Houston, and will surely get another look. To me, this is a win-win. I don’t know how obligated the coaching staff felt towards Tate, but now that won’t be a factor. And Tate can just stop now, rather than racking up more games with minimal carries and minimal yards, maybe damaging his chances at getting the starting job of his dreams.
This is a move I think nearly every fan will embrace. I expect to hear some rumblings from Tate, as he’s never been shy about voicing his opinion. But in the end, whether he likes it or not, this was the right decision for the Cleveland Browns.