Ben Tate Signs With Cleveland (w/ Vine of Tate Barking)
On Saturday, the inevitable finally happened. The Ben Tate Era in Houston ended.
Photo by Lbking Farewell, Ben Tate.
In one of the most easily forecasted transactions of the offseason, Tate finally agreed to become a Cleveland Brown.
And while this move finally gets Tate out from underneath Arian Foster's shadow, and it finally gives him a chance to be the default choice as lead running back for an NFL team, a team that he has been linked to since halfway through his final season as a Texan, ultimately I don't think his first journey into free agency ended even close to the way Ben Tate thought it would.
Well, because the two year contract he signed is worth "up to" $7 million. Total. That's it. Life changing money, yes, but hardly the generational wealth that free agent running backs got as recently as a couple seasons ago.
For a guy who has probably had free agency in 2014 circled on his calendar from about the time that Foster was getting selected for his first Pro Bowl, and for a guy who played through a rib injury for most of the second half of last season in the name of attaining the label of "tough" and "dependable," Tate had to have had more than "up to" $3.5 million per season in mind.
As a basis of comparison, in a free agency market where Tate was the consensus "best running back on the board," he actually got less than (or equal to, on an annualized basis in a best case scenario) Toby Gerhart and Donald Brown, who both signed three year, $10.5 million deals with Jacksonville and San Diego, respectively.
(NOTE: For anyone who watched the "Hey Rookie" series back in 2010, when Tate's draft weekend was chronicled extensively, and remembers Tate's disgust when Gerhart was taken ahead of him, I would imagine that we would see similar "Gerhart backlash" if they were following Tate for a series called "Hey Four Year, Part Time Running Back".)
So Tate would up being, at best, on par with an underwhelming backup in Minnesota and a guy who showed a few flashes after his team dealt for Trent Richardson midseason.
So, what went wrong?