Browns sign running back Ben Tate

TOM WITHERS AP Sports Writer Published:

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Ben Tate was on the Browns' radar for months. He's now on their roster.

Tate signed a two-year, $7 million free agent deal on Saturday with Cleveland, which has been desperate to find a quality every-down running back since trading Trent Richardson to Indianapolis early last season.

Tate, who spent the past four years with Houston, fills the void and the 25-year-old is excited to begin a new chapter of his career with the Browns.

"LET'S DO THIS CLEVELAND!! (hashtag) DawgPound," Tate posted on his Twitter account along with a photo of him wearing a Browns ball cap.

Later in a teleconference, Tate said he's eager to show he can be a feature back.

"It's been something I've been waiting for, for a long time," he said. "I'm just ready to grab this opportunity and run with it and show everyone what I'm all about. ... I feel like now that I've been given this opportunity that I can be one of the top backs in the league. I'm going to let my play speak for itself. But I want it to be known that I do feel like I'm a guy who's gonna be a top-10, top-8, top-5 running back."

Tate had been linked to the Browns almost from the moment they made the shocking deal to send Richardson to the Colts for a 2014 first-round draft pick.

Cleveland considered trading for Tate, but decided to wait until he was available as a free agent. Tate was one of the top free agent backs on the market, and after spending two days visiting the Browns, his agents and the team finalized a deal.

He spent the down time messaging with fans on Twitter, hoping Cleveland would become his new football home.

"I really wanted to be here," said Tate, adding he had other visits lined up. "I thought this was going to be the best opportunity for me. I felt like the pieces that's already here, offensive line-wise and their plans to build in the rest of free agency and also in the draft, so I felt like this was going to be just the best opportunity for me to succeed and to help turn this thing around and take it to another level."

Tate rushed for 771 yards last season, his fourth with the Texans. He played part of the year with broken ribs, an injury that would have sidelined most players.

He has averaged 4.7 yards per attempt during his career. After sitting out his rookie season in 2010 with a broken ankle, Tate took over after starter Arian Foster got hurt in 2011 and rushed for 942 yards and four touchdowns, averaging 5.4 yards per carry.

Tate said it was tough sitting and waiting behind Foster for his chance to shine.

"I feel like I'm explosive," he said when asked to describe his running style. "I feel like I can make guys miss when you hit the open field. I feel like if it's third-and-1 and I've got to go one-on-one with a linebacker that I can do that as well.

"So I just feel like I'm a total package. I feel like I can do everything there is to. I can catch the ball out of the backfield. I feel like I can do everything. I'm a three-down back. I just would say I'm just a complete back."

The Browns ranked tied for 27th in the league with 86.4 yards rushing per game last season and scored only four TDs on the ground.

Tate is the fifth free agent signed by the Browns this week, joining safety Donte Whitner, linebacker Karlos Dansby, cornerback Isaiah Trufant and tight end Jim Dray. Cleveland has signed Cincinnati wide receiver Andrew Hawkins to an offer sheet and is waiting to see if the Bengals are going to match it for the quick slot receiver.

Also, the Browns are in a holding pattern on Pro Bowl center Alex Mack. They designated him as their transition player, locking him into a one-year, $10.039 million deal in 2014 unless he signs an offer sheet elsewhere that Cleveland will have time to match.

PATRIOTS

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots have announced the signing of suspended former Seattle Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner.

The statement comes one day after Browner said on his Twitter account that he has agreed to a contract with the Patriots. Neither has released details of the deal.

Browner would join Darrelle Revis in a revamped secondary after cornerback Aqib Talib left for a reported six-year, $57 million contract with the Denver Broncos. John Geiger, Revis' business manager, has said on Twitter that the three-time All-Pro would be joining the Patriots.

Browner was suspended in December for violating the league's substance abuse policy and must miss the first four games of the 2014 regular season. He will be allowed to attend training camp and play in exhibition games.

COLTS

INDIANAPOLIS -- Hakeem Nicks took the one offer he couldn't refuse in free agency -- to join Andrew Luck and the Colts.

One day after the former Giants receiver agreed to a one-year deal with Indianapolis, Nicks says he turned down an offer from his hometown team, Carolina. He also says in a conference call Saturday that New York never made him an offer.

At 26 and five years into his career, Nicks decided the Colts gave him the best chance to show he can still play.

Nicks had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2010 and 2011, helping the Giants win a Super Bowl title after the 2011 season. But he was slowed by injuries each of the past two seasons.

RAIDERS

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders have agreed on a two-year deal to keep free-agent safety Usama Young.

Agent Andy Simms said on Twitter on Saturday that Young will sign the deal to stay in Oakland. The Raiders have not made an announcement because the contract has not yet been signed.

Young joined the Raiders last season and played 12 games, mostly as a backup and on special teams, before being placed on injured reserve with a neck injury in December.

The 29-year-old Young had one interception, three passes defensed and 2 1/2 sacks with the Raiders.

Young spent his first four seasons in New Orleans when Oakland coach Dennis Allen ran the secondary for the Saints. He then played two years in Cleveland before joining Oakland.

BILLS

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Free-agent linebacker Brandon Spikes has agreed to a one-year deal with the Buffalo Bills, a person familiar with the negotiations said Friday night.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the Bills haven't announced the move with the former New England linebacker.

Spikes had 86 tackles and an interception last season, the former Florida player's fourth with the Patriots.

Bills general manager Doug Whaley has been busy, also adding guard Chris Williams and cornerback Corey Graham and re-signing tight end Scott Chandler.

Free-agent running back Anthony Dixon also was visiting the Bills and tweeted he was prepared to sign a deal. He spent the last four season with San Francisco.

GIANTS

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Jon Beason is going be back in the middle of the New York Giants' defense, and he is going to have help at the linebacker spot.

The Giants confirmed Friday that they re-signed Beason and later said they also signed former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Jameel McClain.

The team did not disclose contract details, but reports said Beason got $19 million over three years. Terms of McClain's deal were not immediately available.

The moves shore up the linebacking position with the team having already given a tender to restricted free agent Spencer Paysinger, the weakside linebacker.

The Giants also announced they re-signed fullback Henry Hynoski.

RAVENS

BALTIMORE -- Steve Smith is eager to continue his NFL career in Baltimore, where he's just a short flight from his permanent home in Charlotte.

The longtime Panthers standout wide receiver didn't waste time finding a new home, signing a three-year contract with the Ravens about 24 hours after being released by Carolina.

The Ravens announced the signing of the 34-year-old Smith on Friday.

Smith was released by the Panthers after 13 seasons. He should provide a solid weapon for quarterback Joe Flacco.

BEARS

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears agreed to a one-year contract with two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Tillman on Friday, retaining one of their cornerstone players as they try to revitalize a struggling defense.

Tillman's status was one of the biggest questions hovering over the team this offseason after the Bears went 8-8 and missed the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years. But they answered that by announcing he will be back for a 12th season.

PACKERS

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers re-signed run-stuffing defensive tackle B.J. Raji on Friday.

General manager Ted Thompson announced the deal Friday. Terms were not disclosed but multiple reports said it was a one-year deal worth $4 million.

The 27-year-old Raji was the ninth overall pick in the 2009 draft. He has played in 76 games with 63 starts and has 227 tackles, 10 1/2 sacks and seven passes defensed during his five seasons with Green Bay.

The Green Bay Packers defense has gotten a big jolt from a big name: Eight-time Pro Bowl defensive end Julius Peppers.

The ex-Carolina Panthers and Chicago Bears defensive end signed a three-year deal with the Packers on Saturday morning, bringing one of the NFL's best pass-rushers to a team that has historically avoided major free-agent splashes.

The move was first reported by ESPN. Peppers' agent, Carl Carey, posted photos to his Twitter account of Peppers signing the deal and standing on the still-frozen tundra of Lambeau Field before the team announced it officially later in the day.

The 34-year-old Peppers was released Tuesday by the Bears in a cost-cutting move. Peppers would have counted $18.183 million against Chicago's salary cap this season and had a base salary of $13 million.

LIONS

DETROIT -- The Lions have re-signed tight end Brandon Pettigrew, keeping one of Matthew Stafford's top targets and a player who can potentially make defenses regret focusing too much on Calvin Johnson.

Pettigrew will get a $16 million, four-year contract with half of the money guaranteed, according to a person familiar with the negotiations who spoke Friday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been announced.

The Lions drafted Pettigrew with the 20th overall pick in 2009, the same year they selected Stafford first overall in the NFL draft. The native of Tyler, Texas, has 284 receptions for 2,828 yards and 16 touchdowns in five NFL seasons.

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