Tate prepares to leave Texans, become “elite” running back

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With free agency opening next week, the biggest name in the running back market belongs to Texans tailback Ben Tate.

After four years in Houston, Tate plans to become one of the top running backs in the league.

“I think I can bring you an elite running back,” Tate told Mark Berman of FOX 26 in Houston.  “I’ve learned a lot being behind Arian [Foster].  Definitely, when I’m healthy I think I’m an elite running back in this league, and I feel like I can show my abilities and my numbers and my play will speak for itself, and guys will be able to see that I am a guy who is a top-five running back in this league, which I believe once I get out there and get to show that on a consistent basis.”

Tate ranks as the best available running back on lists like this one, and this one, and oh let’s see this one.  He values the recognition.

“It lets me know that my hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed,” Tate said.  “Even with my limited, I guess you would say my limited amount of snaps and my limited amount of being able to be out there and play, that my talent is still recognized. It’s very much appreciated.”

Tate says he has come to terms with the fact that he’ll have to leave Houston.

“I have, I have,” Tate said. “I’m very grateful for the Texans selecting me and giving me an opportunity coming out of college.  Without a doubt I’m very grateful for that.  I just see it as a chapter closing in my life and opening a new chapter.”

The old chapter consisted of 1,992 yards in three seasons with the team, after breaking an ankle in the preseason opener of his rookie season.  In 2011, he gained 942 yards, averaging 5.4 yards per carry.

It’s unclear whether his potential production will result in a major payday.  In recent years, veteran tailbacks receive roughly $3 million to $4 million per year.  Few running backs get much more than that, because teams tend to skew younger at the tailback position.  When the 2014 season starts, Tate will be 26.