BEREA, Ohio—Browns running back Ben Tate said the opportunity to be the lead back in the Browns offense was just too good to pass up.
"It's been something I've been wanting for a long time," Tate said on a conference call after signing Saturday. "I'm ready to take the opportunity and run with it."
Tate, 25, confirmed on the call that he signed a two-year deal with the Browns and that he is excited to get out from the shadows of Arian Foster. Reports say the contract is for approximately $7 million with performance incentives over two years.
"It was tough when you're stuck behind someone to (get to) play on a consistent basis," he said. "That's why I signed for two years because I feel I'll be able to show what I can do."
Tate had 771 yards on 181 rushes in 2013 with four touchdowns. He also caught 34 passes for 140 yards. Tate had cracked ribs during the season and missed the last two games.
He started seven games and appeared in 14. Tate's best season was in 2011 when he rushed for 942 yards on 175 carries (5.4 avg.) with four touchdowns. He also caught 13 passes for 98 yards.
Tate said he feels a blessing of playing behind Foster is that he's fresh. Tate is hoping to do what Michael Turner did when he left the Chargers after backing up LaDainian Tomlinson and flourished for years with the Falcons.
"I'm only 25 years old and just starting to reach my prime."
Tate (5-11, 217) feels he can be an every down back, if given the chance.
"I feel I'm a three down back, a complete back."
One knock on Tate is that he's suffered several injuries, including a broken ankle that cost him his rookie season.
"I wouldn't say I'm injury prone," Tate said. "My rookie year I had a broken ankle and I've only missed five or six games since. The last two games last year I missed with cracked ribs, but I wouldn't say I'm injury prone."
Tate said the toughest part for him was waiting to get the deal done with the Browns.
"(The hardest part was) sitting around waiting for something to get done," he said.
Tate said he had other visits and said at least two other teams were very interested in him. He would not disclose what teams they were.
"It really doesn't matter now that I'm with the Browns," he said. "In the grand scheme of things, it came down to at the end of the day the best opportunity for me (was the Browns)."
Last week, Tate said to Houston's Fox 26 that he can be an elite back.
"I think I can bring you an elite running back ," Tate said last Friday. "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 I can show my abilities and my numbers and my play will speak for itself and guys will 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 has had more production in his career than the last feature back the Browns had in Trent Richardson, who was traded to the Colts in September for a first-round draft choice. Tate has averaged 4.7 yards a carry in his career.
Tate joins Edwin Baker, Fozzy Whittaker and Chris Ogbonnaya on the roster at running back. The Browns are likely to still use a draft choice on a back.
Tate was drafted by the Texans in the second-round (58th overall) in 2010 from Auburn, but he missed his entire rookie season with a broken ankle.
Tate has been called a good fit for Browns' offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's zone blocking-scheme offense and is confident the system will allow him to flourish.
"I know if given the opportunity, I can be considered one of the top running backs," he said. "I do feel I'm going to be a top eight or top five running back, but I want my play to speak for itself."