The Houston Texans have one of the most talented one-two punch at the running back position in the league, but that duo is going to be broken up in 2014. Ben Tate has done an excellent job as the change-of-pace backup to workhorse Arian Foster, but the Texans have too many needs and too much invested in Foster to hand Tate a significant deal this offseason. Even though Tate’s chances of earning a large contract were greatly curtailed by a tough rib injury that cut his 2013 season short, he’s still going to get paid by a starter in the offseason, as an RB-needy team like the Cleveland Browns would be wise to snatch him up.
Tate knows his time with the Houston Texans is coming to a close, and ESPN NFL Nation’s Tania Ganguli was the one who asked Tate the tough question about assessing his future with the organization. He, of course, didn’t completely rule out a return, but Tate’s answer of “probably” was basically an admission that he’s almost certainly done.
There is a lot to like about Tate, and he’s a talented back. But does he have the ability to hold up as a starter in this league? Foster is proven and has a large contract, whereas Tate doesn’t. Therefore, Foster isn’t going anywhere, whereas Tate most likely won’t stick around; the Texans just can’t afford to commit to him.
It will be interesting to see where Tate lands in the offseason, and I’m sure there is going to be a good market for his services. He isn’t going to be a highly-touted free agent due to his injury and added concerns regarding his ability to be a feature back in this league, but Tate also once ran for 942 yards and four TDs in a season with 5.4 yards per carry. He hasn’t approached those totals since, but there’s plenty of upside.