For the entire summer, a topic that seemed to come up a lot among Texans fans was the idea of trading running back Ben Tate, who almost rushed for 1,000 yards in a backup role last year. Most state the reason because they will lose him for nothing in a couple of years anyway, due to being stuck behind Arian Foster.
On paper, that sounds true, but one has to remember that Tate was drafted in the second round of he 2010 NFL Draft to be the starter. But after breaking his foot in his first preseason game, Arian Foster was discovered. So he was the forgotten man after Foster’s breakout season in 2010. But when he was healthy again and hit the field last year, the average fan was blown away at the Texans running back duo that combined for 2,166 yards rushing with 14 touchdowns.
The dilemma for most in Houston is that you got two NFL starting caliber running backs on your roster now… I guess I missed the part where this is a problem.
With a guy like Foster, who has had preseason MRI’s for two consecutive seasons now and is a game time decision tomorrow, it’s a nice security blanket to know the drop off between him and Tate is pretty minor. They’re different running backs, sure, but Tate is just as capable of running off a 140 yard, 3 touchdown day as Foster is. He just does it in a different way.
Now, as far as the being afraid of losing him for nothing, that’s always a valid concern. Especially after facing an offseason that saw the Texans losing Mario Williams for nada. However, Tate isn’t a free agent until after the 2013 season. He’s cheap for another season, he’s young, he’s productive. If this team is really going for it this year, trading him now just seems beyond stupid. Yet I hear radio callers and tweeters every single day trying to trade him for an average wide receiver. It makes no sense.
If Foster can’t go tomorrow, I feel every bit as confident in the rushing attack against Miami as I would if number 23 was in the backfield.
The bottom line is that there is nothing wrong with having the best running back duo in the NFL. Imagine if the Texans traded Tate tonight, Foster then goes down with a serious injury in week 3 or so. Then what? You’re going to be telling them how stupid they were for trading a backup with starter talent.
Then, just for hypothetical sake, say Foster comes back next year and he isn’t quite the same player. And you gave Ben Tate away for a pick or a middle of the road player. You’re going to feel pretty dumb, right?
The issue of running backs is always a delicate one in the NFL, because it isn’t a position of longevity. Remember three years ago when most of us thought Steve Slaton was going to be the guy for the next five to seven years? Yeah, he’s unemployed today.
It’s a cliche statement, but more so than any position in the league, the NFL stands for Not For Long in regards to running backs.
This isn’t meant to be a trashing of Arian Foster, because I’m with the rest of the Texans fans who think he’s a special kind of player. I’m saying that you shouldn’t be so quick to dump your terrific insurance policy just because you think nothing will ever happen to your house. Always expect the unexpected. And if you have a starting caliber running back as your backup being paid peanuts for another two years, and you’re trying to win now, you hang onto him.