The Cleveland Browns have wrapped up Mini-Camp with a lot of excitement towards the future of the team. They have a lot to work on but Mike Pettine seems satisfied with the early installation. Ben Tate was brought in to carry the Browns running game, especially with his experience with the Zone Blocking Scheme that Kyle Shanahan prefers and brought to Cleveland. The Browns also traded up to select Terrance West and made signing Isaiah Crowell after the draft a priority. Where does that leave Tate? According to this NFL.com article it leaves him a “Loser”.
Ben Tate: The former Texans running back was under the impression he’d be Cleveland’s unquestioned bell-cow. Instead, we’re not certain he’ll even lead the Browns in carries. The coaching staff is impressed with rookie Terrance West, the Towson product who NFL Media’s Charley Casserly predicts will “be the starting running back this year.” While Tate says “nobody in that room that scares me,” Kyle Shanahan’s ground game is going to be a committee affair that leans on the hot hand.
A lot stands out from that one paragraph. The fact that the staff was really impressed by West is a good sign for him, Casserly’s prediction has a lot less meaning. Tate’s statement, while perceived as arrogance (or disrespectful to his teammates), is a sign of his confidence in his own ability. Something all players should have, whether they say it in that way or not. The note about Shanahan and a committee probably brings up bad memories for many fantasy football players. They watched Kyle’s dad alternate running backs or seemingly change the primary runner on a whim. Drafting Tate, or West for that matter, high in fantasy might be a poor choice.
Overall the Browns commitment to Tate is not high. The 2 year contract is much lower then many expected at the start of the season, and less then Tate expected. The Browns only have about $2.5 million in guaranteed money to Tate and total of just over $6 million for the two years. If Tate explodes in his first time as a full time starter then he will be looking for big money on his next deal, most likely from another team. If he doesn’t the Browns could cut him after 1 season or keep him on to spell West and Crowell and not wear down the young guys too quickly.
Either way the backfield of Tate, West and Crowell, plus any of the leftovers from last year, makes for a far better depth chart then anything we saw last year. Unfortuanetly for Tate he might find himself in a similar situation that he had in Houston, only this time being passed over by young guys who he hoped would be his backups. Tate has really taken to Cleveland via social media and will be a fan favorite next year, but can he stay healthy and productive to fight off West? Time and the injury report will tell.
What are your expectations for Tate this season?