According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Cincinnati Bengals and wide-receiver/kick returner Brandon Tate have agreed to a one-year-deal. Tate is another in the growing list of Bengals’ free agents who have re-signed with the team, and his addition means that they will retain each of their specialists from last year (discounting late-season addition Josh Brown).
The re-signing of Tate will be met with plenty of pessimism from a fan-base that has grown weary of his questionable decisions, poor ball-security and overall lack of production in relation to his talent.
Re-signing Tate sticks with the Bengals’ mantra of keeping continuity within their walls, but it also appears to be an unnecessary addition. While Tate was a solid kick returner statistically, he averaged just under 25 yards per attempt and had two 40+ returns, he is not significantly better than Adam Jones as a punt returner nor does he excel enough at that one aspect of the game to be worthy of a roster spot.
Kick returners aren’t difficult to find. So even though Tate is still relatively young, the Bengals could just as easily have found a player who could contribute more on offense while still handling the return duties. Very few teams in today’s NFL carry specialist returners on their roster. There’s no real reason why the Bengals should.
In 2012, Tate had 13 receptions for 211 yards and a 16.2 average. He was essentially just a deep threat, with five of his receptions going for more than 20 yards and six going for first downs. However, he offers very little that the Bengals don’t already have with Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu.
The former New England Patriots‘ third-round pick may be more experienced, but not significantly. His lack of true starting experience makes him as much of a liability as Sanu or Jones, so there is no competition when it comes to balancing experience and potential.
Outside of Tate just being another camp body, which is even a questionable move in itself, this is a terrible signing for the Bengals.
It’s understandable why Tate has re-signed with the Bengals, but the reality is he could likely have found a better situation elsewhere. He undoubtedly has some physical talent even though the production and execution is still lacking, but the Bengals won’t be focusing on grooming him or looking to give him an opportunity on their offense. All of their focus will be on Sanu and Jones this season, with Hawkins as the established receiver.
Had he waited for the market to settle even further, he could have landed elsewhere.