In the spring rumors heated up that the Houston Texans were trading Ben Tate to the Cleveland Browns, due in large part to Arian Foster signing a five-year $43.5 million contract. Houston shot the rumor down and three months later Tate is still the No. 2 running back on the Texans depth chart.
The rumors are heating up again.
For Tate, being a team’s premier back has to be in his sights. Tate sat out his entire 2010 rookie season after he suffered a broken ankle in the preseason opener against the Arizona Cardinals, then followed it up by rushing for 942 yards and four touchdowns on 175 attempts last year; a remarkable feat considering he only started two games in place of the injured Foster. He averaged a respectable 5.4 yards per carry on the ground and caught 13 passes for 98 yards. In all likelihood, if Tate was the starting running back on another squad, those numbers would improve.
It would make sense if Ben Tate wanted to be traded. On the surface it would make sense if the Houston Texans wanted to trade him.
The Texans need another experienced wide receiver in their corps. They currently have two wideouts that have caught NFL passes, Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter. When healthy, Johnson is one of the league’s top receivers, but his health has been a concern over his career. He has only played five complete seasons entering his tenth in the league, missing three games in 2005 (calf/knee), seven games in 2007 (MCL/PCL), three games in 2010 (ankle), and nine games in 2011 (hamstring). Adding a veteran wideout is something Houston needs and there are teams with WR depth that may be thin at running back, and will attempt to wheel and deal with the Texans.
However, the asking price might be too high.
The Texans were second in the NFL in rushing with 2,448 yards (an average of 153 yards per game) and third in rushing touchdowns with 18. Tate and Foster accounted for 2,166 yards and 14 scores. Alone, Tate’s production is starting back material and if a team were to be interested they would have to put a player on the table with equal value. That means being willing to trade a wide receiver who produces on a starter-quality level.
Something to consider: Tate is slated to make $490,000 this year and $575,000 in 2013. That’s not a lot of payout considering his 2011 season and his contract may make it difficult for the Texans to get a return in value through a trade. It also should be said that the Texans had one of the best offensive lines in the NFL last year blocking for the running back tandem. The left side of the line is still intact, but they lost RT Eric Winston (now with the Kansas City Chiefs) and RG Mike Brisiel (Oakland Raiders) in free agency. They also released FB Lawrence Vickers (Dallas Cowboys) in March.
The Texans are in very good contention to repeat as AFC South Champions. Maybe the best thing for them to do is leave well enough alone and hope their young receivers can pick things up quickly, or acquire a vet through free agency. Tate’s value to the Texans is high; maybe too high to trade away.
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