Ben Tate played in Arian Foster’s shadow for the past three seasons.
The Cleveland Browns are ready to see if Tate has what it takes to be a starter.
Tate, a former backup in Houston, signed a two-year deal with Cleveland on Saturday. He is the best running back available in free agency despite only nine starts in his career.
Cleveland’s acquisition of Tate, 25, could fill the void that occurred after Trent Richardson was traded to Indianapolis for a first-round pick last season. Richardson was a first-round pick by Cleveland in 2012, but traded after two games last season. He never emerged into a star in Indianapolis, but the Colts allowed backup Donald Brown to sign with San Diego in free agency, solidifying Richardson’s status as the No. 1 running back.
Tate will finally have a chance to compete for a starting job this season.
During Tate’s three-year career, he has compiled 1,992 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. He averages 4.7 yards per carry during his career.
Tate is the fifth free agent signed by the Browns this offseason. Safety Donte Whitner, inside linebacker inside linebacker Karlos Dansby, cornerback Isaiah Trufant and tight end Jim Dray are the other players who have signed. In addition, Cleveland signed Bengals restricted free agent slot receiver Andrew Hawkins to a four-year offer sheet worth $13.6 million. Cincinnati has until Tuesday to match Cleveland’s offer.
Cleveland’s acquisition of Tate does not mean the organization will avoiding drafting a running back. Browns running back Dion Lewis is recovering from a broken leg, while Edwin Baker, Fozzy Whittaker and Jamaine Cook are unproven.
The signing of Tate does indicate Browns first-year coach Mike Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer are aggressively trying to upgrade Cleveland’s roster this offseason.
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