The Cleveland Browns have long been rumored to be enamored by the insanely talented, yet annoyingly injury prone Ben Tate to be their replacement for Trent Richardson, who the team traded to Indianapolis early in the 2013 season. The NFL Network's Ian Rapaport is now reporting that Tate is already in Ohio and meeting the (new) new Browns regime as I write this.
For RB Ben Tate, it seems Cleveland is the spot that’s the leader to land him. The plan is a visit there soon. They’ve wanted him.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 12, 2014
Tate, a former second round pick who was supplanted in his rookie year of 2010 after a season-ending injury by the emergence of Arian Foster, has never once given Texans fans reason to believe he is anything but "legit". The only lingering questions, which no doubt contributed to Rick Smith's unwillingness to re-sign Tate in the first place, are just how durable Tate can be as a full-time starter. Not only was Tate's whole 2010 campaign lost to the aforementioned season-ending ankle injury, but his entire career has been dotted by little nicks, bruises, and broken ribs that have slowed down the former Auburn Tiger.
When Tate is healthy, however, there are few backs in the league that are more exciting to watch. While Arian Foster's smooth running style exuded the efficient, clock-chewing death that Gary Kubiak's offense aimed for, Tate was the more violent option.
Brutality, savagery, ferocity; there are a lot of words that can describe Ben Tate's 2013 season, but none more so than tenacity. When Foster went down early in the year with a back injury and the Texans' season was melting away, Ben Tate never stopped running. His ribs were broken, his shoulder hurt, his ankle hurt, his whole body wanted to quit every single day, but Tate never gave up. He saw his chance to finally assert himself as the starter, injuries or not, and he took it. The numbers were not what they could have been had he been healthy, but they didn't have to be. Watching this man lay his body on the line every week for a terrible team was all you needed to know about Ben Tate.
Money is part of the free agency puzzle. It always is, but there is something else that has driven Tate since he first entered the league - he wants to be the best. He wants to be the guy that kids pretend to be when playing a pickup game in the street. He wants to be the top dog...or rather Top Dawg.
Treat him well, Cleveland. Tate might not always be in the best of health, but he'll give you everything he's got.