According to the Houston Chronicle’s John McClain, on draft day the Cleveland Browns were knocking on the Houston Texans’ door regarding running back Ben Tate. Rumors were coming around on draft day that the Texans were offered a 2nd round pick but today it was rumored that the Browns offered the #22 overall pick for the third year back. It feels that Tate’s value as a running back could possibly not get any higher than it is right now.
Despite being the second running back, Tate appeared in 15 games and rushed for 942 yards (5.4 per carry) and 4 touchdowns. Teamed with Arian Foster, they make up one of the top tandems in the NFL and combined for over 2,000 rushing yards. The real question is should the Texans have pulled the trigger on the deal? We look at both sides of the deal and what it could have done for the Texans.
The idea of moving Tate could have landed the Texans the #22 overall pick but it seems odd that this would be a priority for the Browns especially after landing Trent Richardson at #3 overall. Even still, the Texans could have added another draft pick and it would have probably changed the board completely for the team in the later rounds. The Texans could have still landed Whitney Mercilus still at #26, but after #22 the team could have looked at offensive lineman in Riley Reiff, David DeCastro or Kevin Zietler. They could have looked to add another defensive piece like Dont’a Hightower or traded the pick for even more picks later in the draft. There are endless options that the Texans could have looked at with trading Tate and there could have been even more infusion of young talent to the Texans’ roster. Tate’s value is at its highest point right now with a reasonable contract with 2 years left on it.
In today’s NFL, teams need more than one back to compete at a high level. With injuries or just keeping running backs fresh during the game, the Texans have hit pay dirt with both Foster and Tate. The Texans must feel that Tate is more valuable to them as a team than the #22 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft. Tate was a workhorse for the Texans early in the season with Foster on the shelf with his hamstring issue, where he rushed for 301 yards in the first three games of the season. (He is also under contract for the next two seasons and becomes eligible for free agency after the 2013 season.) With all of the injuries the Texans endured during the 2011 season, there is a good chance the Texans are gun-shy of moving players, especially when their overall depth on the team is good. Tate could easily be the feature back if needed, and not many teams have that luxury. The Texans offense is just as potent with Tate in the game and improvement should be expected during the 2012 season as a runner.
The reality is that the Texans are probably going to have to look to move him after the 2012 season because there is a good chance that Tate is going to go to greener pastures when his contract is up. With Foster tied up now with his new deal, Tate’s days are numbered and the Texans are going to work hard to get something in return for him. There is a good chance that they will not be offered a 1st rounder again, but the time is now for the Texans and Tate is a part of the master plan for 2012.
Tate will get his fair share of carries this season and if another running back like Justin Forsett, Davin Meggett or Johnathan Grimes can step up in the Texans offense, it will make moving Tate a little easier for the team when that time comes. The Texans are in a prime spot to keep their team young and competitive with personnel moves. If keeping Tate in 2012 will help the Texans win then we are all for it, but the potential chance to cash in on a Tate trade might have come and gone.