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Bengals Re-Sign Brandon Tate

He's the first impending unrestricted free agent to re-sign with the Bengals.

The Bengals re-signed wide receiver and return specialist Brandon Tate today before he could become an unrestricted free agent next week. NFL Media's Rand Getlin said the contract is for one year. It's the Bengals' first signing of one of their own players in 2016.

Tate has spent five of his seven NFL seasons with Cincinnati, where he has factored into the return game more than as a receiver.

Last season, he became the Bengals' career leader in punt returns (153) and punt return yards (1,411). He has averaged 9.2 yards per punt return, which ranks in the Bengals' top 10. He averaged 6.3 yards per punt return last season, 27th in the NFL among qualifiers. In 2014, he had a clutch 49-yard punt return in the playoff-clinching win against Denver.

Tate has averaged 24.3 yards on 145 career kickoff returns in Cincinnati. His next kickoff return will tie Tremain Mack for the all-time Bengals lead.

Tate has 33 receptions for 469 yards and three touchdowns as a Bengal, including two catches in 2015 for 59 yards, 55 coming on a diving touchdown grab against Kansas City.

That's the upside with Tate, a former New England draft pick. Every now and then, he comes up with a big play. But, for long stretches, he can disappear and not be a statistical factor.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis alluded to Tate's big-play ability Friday in a statement released by the team, saying: “Brandon has made big plays to help us win games, and the consistency of his work ethic and his overall play is a big plus.”

Tate, 28, also is on the good side of 30, and he's durable. He hasn't missed a game in his Bengals career. "We're excited to have him back in the mix on both offense and special teams," Lewis said. "He's a player we've been able to count on every week."

The Bengals could lose cornerback/returner Adam Jones via free agency. Second-year receiver/returner Mario Alford has yet to make an impact on special teams. Tate's presence gives the Bengals some insurance should Jones bolt and Alford remains untrusted. The Bengals trust Tate, and they view him as very dependable.

The Bengals acquired Tate off waivers the week before the 2011 season began. He was one of three Bengals receivers, 14 players total, due to become free agents on Wednesday. With Tate in the fold, Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu remained unsigned among the other 13.

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