The Browns are expected to sign free agent running back Ben Tate on Saturday, according to a report. Tate, who's been in Cleveland since Thursday night, should be under contract today as long he passes his physical, John Telich of Fox 8 News tweeted Saturday morning. Tate is coming off broken ribs and has battled other injuries in his four-year career, including a broken ankle that sidelined him his entire rookie season. Telich reports that the deal is performance-based, and Tate "must prove and will get paid.'' Tate, 25, sent a signal Friday night that things were moving in the right direction when he tweeted a photo of the Terminal Tower lit up in red. In Tate, the former Texans backup to Arian Foster, the Browns will have filled the void they've had at running back since they traded Trent Richardson last season. He'll be the fifth unrestricted free agent signed by the Browns since the league opened for business on Tuesday. The others are safety Donte Whitner, inside linebacker Karlos Dansby, cornerback Isaiah Trufant and tight end Jim Dray. They've also signed Bengals restricted free agent wide receiver Andrew Hawkins to a four-year offer sheet worth $13.6 million, but the Bengals have until Tuesday to match. Multiple reports say that the Bengals will let Hawkins defect to their AFC North foes, but Geoff Hobson of bengals.com reports it could still go either way. A fifth-year pro, Tate, 25, has averaged 4.7 yards per carry during his three seasons. A second-round pick of the Texans out of Auburn in 2010, he broke his ankle in preseason and sat out his rookie season. But he came back in 2011 and won the backup job to Arian Foster, rushing for 942 yards on 175 attempts for a 5.4-yard average -- third highest in the NFL. He also rushed for four touchdowns. Plagued by lingering foot and hamstring injuries in 2012, Tate was limited to 279 yards on 65 carries, but still averaged a respectable 4.3 yards per carry. For comparison's sake, Richardson averaged 3.6 yards per carry in 2012 and 3.3 overall. Last season, Tate battled through four cracked ribs much of the season to rush for 771 yards and four TDs in 14 games, including seven starts. Ultimately, he succumbed to the rib pain and was placed on injured reserve for the final two games of the season. But he drew praise from interim coach Wade Phillips for playing in his next game after breaking the ribs, rushing for 81 yards on 22 carries in a loss to the Colts. "He's a tough son of a gun - I've had star players not play with broken ribs,'' Philips told the Houston Chronicle. Tate said last week that he's looking for a chance to step out of Foster's shadow and establish himself as a top five back in his own right.
Browns expect to sign Ben Tate today
Cleveland Plain Dealer | Mar 15