Can the Houston Texans Realistically Expect to Retain Ben Tate?

Matt Goldstein@mattgoldstein5Contributor IINovember 20, 2013

HOUSTON, TX- NOVEMBER 17: Ben Tate #44 of the Houston Texans rushes past Nick Roach #53 of the Oakland Raiders on November 17, 2013 at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas. Raiders won 28 to 23.(Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)
Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

When the offseason mercifully rolls around for the Houston Texans, a prime goal for the much-maligned franchise would seem to be to re-sign Ben Tate, who will be a free agent at the end of this season.

Tate is Arian Foster’s stud backup running back, and he has consistently made big plays for the Texans offense throughout the years. Currently he is gutting it out through a painful rib injury, putting the running game on his back with Foster out.

HOUSTON, TX- NOVEMBER 17: Matt Schaub #8 of the Houston Texans fakes the hand off to Ben Tate #44 of the Houston Texans against the Oakland Raiders on November 17, 2013 at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas. Raiders won 28 to 23.(Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Ge
Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

Tate’s sheer talent alone makes him worthy of being re-signed, but the concerns surrounding Foster make Tate even more valuable.

Many believe that after totaling an incredibly high amount of touches over the past few seasons, Foster’s body will continue to break down. They argue that Foster’s recent slew of injuries—including his season ending one—are clear signs of this.

Therefore, it would seem like a great insurance policy to keep Tate. If the Texans’ star running back gets injured, they’ll have another one waiting on the bench.

However, the Texans—despite their incredible need to keep Tate—might be unable to hang on to their cherished backup.

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It all comes down to money. The Texans are already cap-strapped due to the sheer amount of talented players getting paid on their roster, and they have very little room to operate in free agency.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 06:  Running back  Ben Tate #44 of the Houston Texans looks on prior to the start of the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on October 6, 2013 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Imag
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

And besides Tate, the Texans have several other high-value free agents that they will have to re-sign in the coming years. In the upcoming free agency period, Antonio Smith, Wade Smith, Earl Mitchell, Darryl Sharpton and Garrett Graham will all be unrestricted free agents.

And in 2015, the Texans will have a ridiculous number of impact players up for new contracts, including J.J. Watt, Owen Daniels, Kareem Jackson, Danieal Manning and Brooks Reed.

The Texans desperately need to manage their money, and they cannot afford to waste it on a backup running back.

Now, many of you may be saying—how much will Tate actually cost? And while it’s true that many teams sometimes whiff on signing high-profile running backs in free agency because of future injury concerns due to potential wear-and-tear, not a single team will have that issue with Tate.

The reason is that Tate is still extremely young, and since he has played as a backup for most of his career, he has not sustained a large amount of hits, which will limit his body’s breakdown.

And with teams like the Browns, Jets and others desperate for a running back, Tate will likely be overpaid in free agency.

All of this makes it nearly impossible for the Texans to re-sign Tate, and they will have to spend this offseason looking for a cheap, yet effective, replacement.