Our Steelers 2015 Free Agent Focus now focuses its attention on the unlikely Steeler, Ben Tate.
Capsule Profile of Ben Tate with the Steelers
When the Steelers cut LeGarrette Blount, speculation immediately focused on weather or not the Steelers would resign Ben Tate. While some controversy existed as to whether the Steelers were interested or not, the bottom line is that nothing materialized.
- However, when Le’Veon Bell hyperextended his knee vs. the Cincinnati Bengals, the Steelers wasted little time in taking the Red Phone to Ben Tate.
In fact, the first carry of the Steelers playoff game vs. the Ravens was made by Ben Tate. He only ran for 2 yards, but the Steelers went to him again, and he gained 7 yards. Then 8 on his third run, when he fumbled.
For the record, the Steelers gave him two more carries on the night, he also caught two balls for 9 yards.
The Case for Keeping Ben Tate with the Steelers
The Steelers need a backup for Le’Veon Bell. They need someone not only to spell him occasionally, but someone capable of carrying the load in his absence. Ben Tate essentially got a 1 game audition for that role, and didn’t do too badly.
Tate is both a veteran running back and one who does not have too much mileage on him. He’s already cut his teeth with the Steelers so they know what he’s like.
The Case Against Keeping Ben Tate with the Steelers
Tate had a strong rookie year in Houston in 2011, but his star has dimmed considerably since then. He was cut not once, but twice in 2014 first by Houston, then by Minnesota. He’s reputed not to be someone who works and plays well with others.
- Worse yet, he appears to be someone who can’t stand playing second fiddle, even if that suits his ability.
The Steelers have had experience with running backs like that LeGarrette Blount was the most recent example, but Leroy Thompson also fell into that category. When it became clear that Bam Morris was a suitable number two to Barry Foster in the summer of 1994, Tom Donahoe wasted little time in trading Thompson. Steelers Digest editor Bob Labriola described the move as a “locker room cleansing.”
The Steelers do need a backup for Bell, but they can do better than Tate.
Curtain’s Call on Steelers and Ben Tate
The fate of Steelers free agent Ben Tate isn’t exactly a leading story line in Pittsburgh or Steelers Nation. Nor should it be.
The Steelers could do worse for a number 2 back than Ben Tate. But they could also do better.
There are a number of veteran free agent running backs out there worthy of a shot, and the 2015 NFL Draft should give the Steelers a shot a serviceable backup. All of that means that the Steelers have no need to sign Tate any time soon, as they can afford to invest the time seeking a better back.