Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Ben Tate Unlikely To Return To The Houston Texans

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

With the Texans season officially over, Ben Tate tweeted he likely won’t return to the Houston Texans in 2014.

Odds are he is correct. The Texans have already committed just under $6 million to Arian Foster and he won’t be a free agent until after the 2016 season. Tate has earned a starting job in this league, and he’s likely going to find one on a different team this offseason.

Tate, 25, was drafted in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft, but missed the entire 2010 season after breaking his ankle in the preseason. In 2011, Tate brought a much needed spark to the running game and had his best year of his career up-to-date, rushing for 942 yards on 175 rushes, good for an unbelievable 5.4 yards-per-carry. Though Tate’s numbers were way above average for a backup running back, Tate struggled holding onto the ball, and finished the season with four fumbles.

Tate’s struggles continued during the 2012 season, though in a different way. Tate rushed just 65 times for 279 yards (4.3 ypc), but hamstring and foot injuries caused him to miss five games and he lost out on many carries to Justin Forsett.

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

This past season, Tate finished with 771 yards on 181 attempts (4.3 ypc). His numbers themselves were pretty good for a RB, but the more impressive part is that he was doing it while playing with four cracked ribs. After Arian Foster went down for the season with a back injury, Tate was ready to step up as the team’s lead back. In week 7 against the Kansas City Chiefs, Dontari Poe cracked four of Tate’s rib on a tackle. Tate played the remaining seven games with four cracked ribs, before further injuring his ribs in the week 15 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Tate was placed on Injured Reserve on December 19th.

Do the Texans need to re-sign Tate? Probably not, and it doesn’t make much sense for either party. Tate has done a good enough job in his first four (or three) seasons in Houston to earn himself a starting job in the NFL. Teams like the Cleveland Browns may be interested in the Tate, and could certainly offer him enough money and the starting job that Tate is looking for.

When Tate went down this season, the Texans got to see a glimpse of Dennis Johnson and Jonathan Grimes. Both running backs played pretty well in their few carries, and they have definitely earned a chance to be the backups to Arian Foster next season. It seems like running backs almost grow on trees for the Texans, and no one expects them to spend money to keep Tate.

Even with all that said, there is a small, small chance the Texans elect to bring back Tate. Check out this tweet.

If Bill O’Brien likes him that much, the Texans may elect to bring back Tate, but that may be at the expense of Arian Foster. The Texans could decide to go with Tate over Foster, and therefore cut Foster if they’re concerned his back injury could hinder his future performance.

Just like with Tate, the Texans offseason rides in the hands of Bill O’Brien. With a brand-new coaching staff in place, O’Brien may prefer to keep Tate over Foster, or may have other “unpopular” decisions in place.

Time will tell, but for now, a Tate-Texans reunion seems a bit unlikely.


Tags: Ben Tate Houston Texans

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