New Browns running back Ben Tate is moving out of the shadows and into the spotlight.
Tate, a second-round pick in 2010 who spent his time in Houston backing up Arian Foster, signed a two-year deal with the Browns this afternoon reportedly worth up to $7 million. He steps into a huge hole in the backfield.
Tate, 25, has shown the ability to be a feature back in short stretches. He’s averaged 4.7 yards a carry with 1,992 yards and 10 touchdowns in 40 games, including nine starts.
Injuries have also prevented Tate (5-foot-10, 217 pounds) from fulfilling his potential, including broken ribs last season that slowed him, then cost him the last two games. He finished with 181 carries for 771 yards, a 4.3 average and four touchdowns in seven starts and 14 games.
He missed his rookie season after suffering an ankle injury in preseason.
Tate greeted Browns fans with a short video posted to his Twitter account that ends with him barking.
“This is for all u crazy @browns fans (crazy in a good way) who’ve been blowing me up on twitter all week!! LOL https://vine.co/v/MbVduI3XUwA
He also tweeted: “LET’S DO THIS CLEVELAND!! #DawgPound” with a picture of him pointing to a Browns hat he’s wearing.
Tate was considered among the top free agent options at running back and linked to the Browns before free agency began. But the completion of the deal took awhile.
He arrived in Cleveland on Thursday night and didn’t leave until the deal got done. He tweeted a picture of the Terminal Tower on Friday night.
“Hey @Browns fans let @BenTateRB know we want him here! #TateWait,” Cleveland guard Jason Pinkston tweeted Friday.
Tate should fit well with new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who runs the same zone-blocking scheme coach Gary Kubiak used with the Texans.
The Browns had been in the market for a starting running back since trading Trent Richardson in Week 3 last year. The Tate signing shouldn’t preclude them from drafting a back in the later rounds in May.
The Browns ranked tied for 27th with 86.4 yards rushing per game, including only four touchdowns. They have Dion Lewis, Fozzy Whittaker and Edwin Baker on the roster, along with tailback/fullback Chris Ogbonnaya. Lewis missed the season after breaking his leg in the preseason.