On a morning where it was reported all over that the Colts will sign former Cleveland Browns kick returner Josh Cribbs, fans on twitter have been repeatedly asking me about another former Brown: running back Ben Tate, who was released this morning, and whether the Colts should go after him.
Then, early this afternoon, just as I was sitting down to write this article, the Steelers waived LeGarrette Blount - and, right on cue, I received numerous questions about whether the Colts should go after him.
Because of the response, with numerous questions about each running back, I figured I'd go ahead and write up a quick post outlining the positives and the negatives, my thoughts, and providing some sort of thread for you all to discuss.
- 5 foot 10 inches, 220 pounds, 26 years old
- Second round draft pick in 2010 out of Auburn by the Houston Texans
- Spent 2010-2013 with Houston (missed all of 2010 season with a broken ankle), first ten games of 2014 with Cleveland Browns
- Career stats: 48 games played, 527 carries for 2,325 yards and 14 touchdowns (4.4 yards per carry), 67 receptions for 347 yards
- 2014 stats: 8 games played, 106 carries for 333 yards and 4 touchdowns (3.1 yards per carry)
- Had 124 yards rushing on 22 carries in the Browns' week five win over the Titans, his sixth career 100+ yard day
The Colts could use a running back since they lost Ahmad Bradshaw, likely for the season (though still unknown). Tate is a strong back who could help out the Colts. He's nothing special as a receiving back, though he's not terrible in that area either. He has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career, however. He's an average back, but keep in mind that he did open the season as the Browns' starter. And while it's good for Ryan Grigson to be careful, I don't think the excuse "well look at how the last Browns' back the Colts got did" is a very useful one, seeing as they're two different players. The biggest question I would have regarding Tate is this: would he be ok with the role he would play in Indianapolis? It sounds like he wasn't happy as a backup or splitting carries in Cleveland, and that's a big part of what went into the decision to release him. Well, guess what - in Indianapolis, he'd be a backup splitting carries too. Trent Richardson is the starter and the Colts do like Dan Herron. Ben Tate wouldn't be anything close to a feature back in Indianapolis, and it's fair to wonder whether or not he'd be ok with that role. It's something the Colts need to consider before signing him. Plus, keep in mind that there's a decent chance another team higher on the waiver priority claims him. Overall, he'd be a solid option for the Colts to consider - if he'd be ok with the role he would play.
- 6 foot 0 inches, 250 pounds, 27 years old
- Originally signed as an undrafted free agent out of Oregon by the Tennessee Titans
- Spent time with the Titans in the 2010 offseason, spent the 2010-2012 seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, spent the 2013 season with the New England Patriots, and spent the first eleven games this year with the Pittsburgh Steelers
- Career stats: 67 games played, 644 carries for 2,977 yards and 22 touchdowns (4.6 yards per carry), 29 receptions for 238 yards
- 2014 stats: 11 games played, 65 carries for 266 yards and 2 touchdowns (4.1 yards per carry)
- Had 118 yards rushing and a touchdown on 10 carries in the Steelers' week five three over the Panthers, his ninth career regular season 100+ yard day (plus one playoff 100+ yard game against the Colts)
Blount is a good running back and I think a better overall player than Ben Tate. He's not a receiving back and that certainly brings his value for the Colts down some, but he's a fast, strong back who can produce when given the chance. He'd certainly be a very intriguing option for the Colts to consider based on talent, but like Tate, there's a reason why these guys were released mid-season. It's not like in free agency, where a team chooses not to keep you around - this is a team choosing to cut you in the midst of the season, so there are certainly other factors that must be considered. And for Blount, there are. They all came to a head last night when Blount walked off the field before the game was over because he wasn't happy with how the Steelers used him despite a great night from Le'Veon Bell, and that wasn't perceived well by many. The Steelers reportedly felt like it was an ongoing issue of selfishness for Blount, and that's what caused them to part ways with the running back. While in Indianapolis there wouldn't be the issue of a guy like Bell (one of the league's best running backs) ahead of him, his role would fluctuate. The Colts are a clear passing offense, and with Bell's role being very limited in the receiving game there would be some limitations to his role. Furthermore, the Colts are very much built on a "team first" approach just like the Steelers are. Plus - while Blount might go up against the Colts defense in practice every day, keep in mind that he wouldn't get to play the Indy defense every week, so it would be unfair to expect a repeat of last year's playoff performance from Blount.
Ultimately, here's the deal: there are positives and negatives to signing either player, and there's no doubt that talent-wise both backs could help the Colts. But there are other things to consider, plus the waiver order. But I know you love to discuss these things, so use this thread to do so - just be respectful. Do you think the Colts should look at signing either Ben Tate or LeGarrette Blount? Vote in the poll and discuss in the comments to let your voice be heard.