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Should Colts Sign Ben Tate?


This afternoon, it was announced that the Cleveland Browns have released 5th-year running back Ben Tate. The Ex-Texans running back had signed with the Cleveland Browns on a 2-year deal worth up to $7MM. However, after being passed by Browns’ running backs Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell on the depth chart, Tate had been increasingly displeased with his diminished role in the offense. Cleveland apparently had enough with his poor attitude, releasing him today.

With Ahmad Bradshaw out indefinitely with a broken ankle, the question is whether the Colts should consider signing Ben Tate with only Trent Richardson and Dan Herron as its active running backs. It’s easy to forget that Tate is only 1 season removed from a 771 rushing yard season with the Houston Texans, in which he averaged 4.3 ypc. However, he’s struggled quite a bit this season with the Browns, having appeared in just 8 games with 333 total rushing yards and a 3.1 ypc average.

One leg up! Currently on the team’s practice squad, running back Zurlon Tipton (37) would already know the offense’s scheme and playbook, having even spent preseason with the Colts. Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

The Colts could ultiamtely decide to roll with undrafted rookie, Zurlon Tipton, who’s already on their practice squad. Tipton has the luxury of already knowing the Colts’ offensive system and playbook, having been stashed on their practice squad and previously played with the offense in preseason.

However, in my opinion, Tate offers more “boom or bust” potential. He very well could continue to struggle or be a malcontent, but at that point, if he becomes a problem, you release him…no harm…no foul.

Tate likely wouldn’t get anything more than the minimum at this point in the regular season, so it wouldn’t be much of a loss out of owner Jim Irsay’s deep pockets. He’d be a seemingly low risk, high reward proposition. Tate has at least shown in the recent past that he can be an effective running back, as part of a platoon in 2013 with the Texans’ Arian Foster.

It’s true that Tate may not be any better than Trent Richardson, another heralded Cleveland Browns’ running back cast-off that the Indianapolis Colts decided to acquire, who has mostly struggled. However, it’s Week 12! If there was a starting caliber running back available, wouldn’t he have already been signed by another team?

The Colts have to sign someone even as their 3rd running back regardless. Tate has his clear red flags at this point, but so do all of the other running backs that have been available for weeks. The only difference is, Tate has just recently been made available and is the only one on the scrapheap that is coming off a recent productive season with proven success. The former Texans’ 2010 2nd round pick out of Auburn still has youth and ability in his favor.

The Colts will be one among many suitors, but they should roll the dice and sign Ben Tate. 

Dec 15, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Houston Texans running back Ben Tate (44) runs the ball and is tackled by Indianapolis Colts inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman (50) during the first quarter at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports