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Ben Tate, Cleveland Browns strike two-year deal

Long months of whispers about Ben Tate becoming a Cleveland Brown are no longer just rumors.

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The former Houston Texans running back signed a two-year deal worth about $6.2 million on Saturday, according to NFL Media's Albert Breer, who cited information received from the NFL Players Association.

The Browns later confirmed the signing.

Our top-ranked free-agent runner, Tate brings the right blend of age and potential that smart teams look for in free agency, but the Browns were wise to negotiate a short-term agreement that accounts for the 25-year-old's injury history. The sides had been camped in Berea hammering out a deal since Thursday.

Under new general manager Ray Farmer, the Browns came into free agency prioritizing help at safety, slot receiver and running back. After adding backstop Donte Whitner and -- barring a change of course -- wideout Andrew Hawkins, Tate gives the Browns an answer in the backfield.

On the field, he's a hard-churning runner with a 4.7 yards-per-carry mark over 40 career games. Tate also showed toughness last season, suiting up through the pain of four broken ribs in place of the injured Arian Foster. Tate in 2013 compiled career highs in attempts (181) and touchdowns (four) and saw more production as a receiver out of the backfield.

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After shipping Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts in September, Cleveland spent the rest of last season exposed on the ground. Tate joins a cast of runners that includes Fozzy Whittaker, Edwin Baker and Chris Ogbonnaya -- all with uncertain futures in Cleveland under first-year coach Mike Pettine.

Tate's most intriguing fit comes with scatback Dion Lewis, who displayed burst before landing on injured reserve in August with a fractured left fibula.

We still expect the Browns to mine the draft for another young back, but Tate -- despite just 421 rushes over the past three seasons -- will be given the chance to serve as a bell-cow in new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's attack.

Everything we know about the Shanahan family's previous work with runners suggests Tate, if he stays on the field, will produce yardage in chunks along the shores of Lake Erie.

The "Around The League Podcast" breaks down all the free-agency moves and hands out a fleet of high-octane sandwiches.

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