Ben Tate

Latest On 2018 Spring League

The 2018 Spring League is scheduled to get underway next week, with practices starting next Wednesday and games beginning on April 7. Former Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel is the most high-profile former NFL player involved in the endeavor, but other NFL notables are also participating, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.

Running backs Ben Tate and Lorenzo Taliaferro, receiver Stephen Hill, defensive lineman Alameda Ta’amu, and defensive back Al Louis-Jean are among the ex-NFLers who will take part in the Spring League, per Florio. Meanwhile, former NFL defensive backs coach/Rex Ryan disciple Donnie Henderson will lead the league’s East team.

The Spring League is a developmental effort comprised of four teams which involves four games in April. The league began in 2017, and notable ex-NFLers such as Greg HardyKellen Winslow, and Ahmad Bradshaw were among the participants.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Eagles, Walker, Mangold, Vikes

Newly minted Eagles defensive tackle Charles Walker drew criticism for leaving Oklahoma’s football team last year before its season ended (head coach Bob Stoops essentially called him a quitter), but it turns out he had a good reason. Walker’s early exit came because of a battle with depression, which he explained in a letter to all 32 NFL teams prior to the draft, reports Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter links). Walker also notified clubs that taking medication has helped curb his depression. Despite that positive development and Walker’s high upside, nobody took a flier on him during the seven-round draft.

More from around the game:

  • Free agent center Nick Mangold, unemployed since the Jets released him in February, told Kimberley A. Martin of Newsday that he’s “trying to get ready” for 2017, but it doesn’t appear retirement is out of the question for the 33-year-old. When asked if he has ruled out walking away from football, Mangold said, “We’re still trying to see what the options are.” Although he has an outstanding track record, there has been scant interest in the seven-time Pro Bowler this offseason. It’s possible that’ll change shortly, however, as New Orleans may be on the lookout for help in the middle of its offensive line.
  • After a four-year stint as Nebraska’s quarterback, the undrafted Tommy Armstrong is going to have to change positions if he wants to make the Vikings. Armstrong, who’s currently unsigned, entered the Vikings’ rookie minicamp trying out at running back. Minnesota then shifted him to safety, and he intrigued the club enough to earn an invitation to organized team activities, per Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. Said Armstrong, whose college career included 90 touchdowns (67 passing, 23 rushing): “I met with (defensive backs coach Jerry) Gray after practice Sunday, and he said, ‘We’re going to fly you back up here (next) Sunday and we’ll give you a playbook. He said he’d call me in a few days. They also like the way I’ve been playing special teams.’’
  • Upward of 12 players in the Spring League have been invited to NFL minicamps. CEO Brian Woods says he’s happy with the way things have played out since the league’s inaugural season wrapped up. “We were pleased with the NFL turnout for sure,” Woods said (via Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com). “It was overwhelming and we were happy to have it. I was talking as it wrapped up with some of our coaches, and we feel like this league is in position to help quarterbacks as much as anything, and we all know that’s an ongoing priority for the NFL.” Generally, though, NFL execs have told Seifert that they wished the league was younger as a whole. Running back Ben Tate, 28, apparently turned in the best performance of any of the league’s players.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

The Spring League Announces Camp Roster

Since we learned last year that there’d be a spring football league in 2017, several former NFL stars have committed to the endeavor. Today, The Spring League announced (via Twitter) their full training camp roster.

Ahmad BradshawAs was previously reported, defensive end Greg Hardy, tight end Kellen Winslow Jr., and running back Ben Tate were among the major names to have committed to the league. Former cornerback Brandon Browner was reportedly involved, but he was curiously omitted from the training camp roster. Former Giants and Colts running back Ahmad Bradshaw is seemingly the biggest addition to the roster since the last update.

The Spring League is composed of four teams, with the rosters comprised of veteran free agents. Ultimately, six games will be played between April 5 through April 26. Players who are currently on NFL rosters are not eligible to participate.

The full training camp roster can be found below:

Quarterbacks

Running backs

Fullbacks

  • Adam Cox
  • Jonathan Amosa

Read more

Extra Points: Pats, Browns, Saints, Mixon

There have been conflicting reports over the past couple months on whether the Patriots will consider trading backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo this offseason. The latest update, via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, indicates the Pats “do not want to deal” Garoppolo, even though he could hit free agency next year. No team has shown more interest in Garoppolo this offseason than the Browns, but they’ve seemingly given up hope on acquiring him, per Rapoport, who adds that the Pats regard the 25-year-old as a franchise-caliber passer. New England already has an all-world option under center in Tom Brady, of course, but the five-time Super Bowl champion is set to play his age-40 season in 2017.

One of Garoppolo’s New England teammates, cornerback Malcolm Butler, has also been a prominent part of trade rumors this offseason. While the Patriots’ intention is to keep Butler, according to owner Robert Kraft, Larry Holder of NOLA.com anticipates that they’ll ultimately deal him to the Saints (video via NFL.com). New Orleans has chased Butler, a restricted free agent, and has reportedly had productive long-term contract discussions with him. The Saints aren’t willing to give up the No. 11 overall pick for Butler, but they could dangle the 32nd selection, which they acquired from the Pats in the Brandin Cooks trade.

More from around the sport:

  • Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon will rack up 15 visits with teams prior to the beginning of the draft on April 27, his agent, Peter Schaffer, told Michael Gehlken of Pro Football Talk. “(This many visits) is clearly not efficient and (consumes) a lot of time,” said Schaffer. “But at the same time, it’s important to have it. It’s a blessing for any player to get considered for the draft. Along with that blessing comes hard work.” Many of the clubs Mixon has met with are willing to forgive him for his checkered past, which jibes with a report that he could go as high as the second round. “Everyone who has brought him in has remarked how remorseful he is about what he did when he was 18 … and that he’s deserving of a second chance,” Schaffer revealed.
  • Former NFLers Greg Hardy, Ahmad Bradshaw, Kellen Winslow, McLeod Bethel-Thompson, Ben Tate and Ricky Stanzi have reported to West Virginia to partake in the Spring League, relays Mike Florio of PFT. The league, which isn’t affiliated with the NFL, will play a six-game season from April 15-26. Its participants won’t receive pay – only lodging and meals during the season – writes Florio. Some pro scouts will be on hand, though, giving the players an opportunity to stand out and earn either a first NFL shot or, in the cases of the aforementioned six, a repeat chance(s).
  • The expectation is that the Ravens will eventually release cornerback Kyle Arrington, reports Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. The Ravens would first like Arrington to pass a physical, notes Zrebiec. Arrington suffered a concussion during the preseason last summer and landed on injured reserve at the end of August. Cutting the 30-year-old would save Baltimore $2.1MM, against just under $667K in dead money.

Kellen Winslow, Ben Tate Join Spring League

The Spring League kicks off in April and it will feature some notable names looking to resurrect their football careers. Defensive end Greg Hardy, tight end Kellen Winslow Jr., cornerback Brandon Browner, and running back Ben Tate are among the players who have been confirmed as participants, according to a press release. Greg Hardy (vertical)

Winslow has not played in an NFL game since the 2013 season and we haven’t heard much from him since he worked out for the Packers last August. Tate, a former second-round pick, showed lots of promise in Houston but could not capitalize on a starting opportunity with the Browns in 2014. Hardy and Browner first committed to the league in early March.

The Spring League consists of four teams comprised of veteran free agents. The league will conduct practices and play six games from April 5 through April 26. Players who are currently on NFL rosters will not be eligible to participate.

The league has secured five quarterbacks thus far, including Chiefs 2011 fifth-round pick Ricky Stanzi and NFL practice squad journeyman McLeod Bethel-Thompson. At wide receiver, there’s former Ram Brandon Gibson, Jets 2014 fourth-round pick Jalen Saunders, and one-time Bills WR2 David Nelson. Former Jets defensive back Ellis Lankster and Texans 2013 third-round defensive tackle Sam Montgomery will also be suiting up for The Spring League next month.

The full list of players can be found below. In addition to those listed here, Pro Football Rumors has learned that another 30 players are expected to join prior to the start of training camp.

Quarterbacks

  • Hutson Mason
  • Ricky Stanzi
  • McLeod Bethel-Thompson
  • Zach Kline
  • Jeremy Cannon

Running backs

Wide receivers

  • Jalen Saunders
  • David Nelson
  • Kenzel Doe
  • Brandon Gibson
  • Daje’ Johnson
  • Gavin Lutman
  • Tyler McDonald
  • J.D. Woods
  • Sed Cunningham
  • Lawrence Smith
  • Terrance Lewis
  • Rashon Ceaser
  • Kendrick Wiggins

Read more

NFC Notes: Eagles, Panthers, Packers, 49ers

After rounding up several AFC notes earlier today, let’s shift our focus to the NFC and check out the latest….

  • Eagles head coach Chip Kelly doesn’t expect his team to make any deals before today’s trade deadline, according to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer (via Twitter). Asked specifically about defensive end Vinny Curry, Kelly said he hasn’t come up in trade discussions (Twitter link via Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer).
  • Another NFC contender, the Panthers, will likely stand pat as well, tweets Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. Carolina could use a wide receiver, but as Person points out, general managers typically don’t want to risk upsetting the chemistry of a 7-0 team.
  • Before the 49ers sent him to Denver, the Packers didn’t inquire on tight end Vernon Davis, says Rob Demovksy of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Green Bay has been searching for consistent production from the tight end position since Jermichael Finley‘s days with the team, but apparently didn’t have real interest in Davis.
  • Speaking of that Davis trade, Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com explains how the 49ers were able to trade the same seventh-round pick twice within two months.
  • Free agent running back Ben Tate, whose workout with the 49ers was scheduled before the team signed Shaun Draughn and Pierre Thomas, will still audition for San Francisco today, according to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee (via Twitter). It seems unlikely that Tate would get an offer from the Niners at this point, but he could be added to the club’s emergency list for later in the season.

49ers Working Out Ben Tate

After Reggie Bush suffered a fluke knee injury on Sunday that will likely end his season, the 49ers figure to be in the market for running back help. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter), one player the team is eyeing as a potential Bush replacement is veteran free agent Ben Tate, who will work out for San Francisco tomorrow.

Tate, 27, was viewed as a potential breakout candidate heading into the 2014 season, but saw his stock drop significantly last year, as he failed to produce consistently for the Browns, Vikings, and Steelers. The poor showing has made it challenging for Tate to find work this season — he has worked out for the Cowboys, Lions, and Chiefs since becoming a free agent, but has yet to find a new home.

As for the Niners, the Bush injury is the latest in a string of them in the team’s backfield. Carlos Hyde is dealing with a foot injury, and rookie Mike Davis suffered a fractured hand in Sunday’s loss to the Rams, according to Rapoport (via Twitter). San Francisco waived Jarryd Hayne on Saturday, with head coach Jim Tomsula explaining that the Niners wanted a heavier runner for the game against St. Louis, per Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. Hayne was replaced on the roster by 238-pound Kendall Gaskins.

While Bush is one possibility for the Niners, he’s hardly the only one. The club could also consider Pierre Thomas, who previously worked out for San Francisco, and re-signing Hayne is an option as well, assuming he clears waivers today.

Chiefs Working Out Ben Tate, Pierre Thomas

1:53pm: Former Saints running back Pierre Thomas is also auditioning for the Chiefs, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Although Kansas City is taking a look at some veteran backs, head coach Andy Reid said today that the Chiefs intend to look in-house first before addressing the running back position via free agency.

11:03am: With Jamaal Charles potentially lost for the year with an ACL injury, the Chiefs are bringing in another veteran running back, Ben Tate, for a workout on Tuesday, reports Adam Teicher of ESPN.com. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the team also takes a look at a few more free agent backs during Tuesday’s session, though Tate is the only name we know for now.

Tate, 27, was viewed as a possible breakout candidate heading into the 2014 season, as he finally stepped out from Arian Foster‘s shadow after spending four years as the backup in Houston. However, after signing with the Browns, Tate underwhelmed, and was eclipsed on Cleveland’s depth charts by rookies Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West.

The Browns opted to part ways with Tate last November, at which point three teams put in claims for the running back, with the Vikings landing him. Tate wasn’t any more impressive for Minnesota though, and was cut by the club before Week 17.

The former Auburn standout received one more opportunity in the postseason, signing with the Steelers and seeing five carries in Pittsburgh’s Wild Card loss to the Ravens. Since his contract with Pittsburgh expired, Tate has worked out for the Cowboys and Lions, but hasn’t found a new NFL home.

With Charles out, Knile Davis and Charcandrick West are expected to vie for carries in Kansas City. Still, it makes sense that the Chiefs would want to add at least one more back to the mix, especially with Charles likely headed to the injured reserve list, opening up a roster spot.

North Notes: Heyward, Lions, Bennett

Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward is due for a big-time contract and will likely ink one before training camp opens, Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes.

I try to stay out of the process and just focus on what I can control,” Heyward said. “I’d love to get a contract, but I have to just continue to keep my eyes on the prize. I would love for it to happen. I think they want it to happen.”

Last season, Heyward was the first defensive end to lead the Steelers in sacks in a decade as he and Jason Worilds tied with 7.5 a piece. Heyward says he plans on being even more of a force this season and topping that total. Here’s more out of the North divisions..

  • There are a number of Steelers entering their walk years, but Heyward might be the only one to sign a new deal, Bouchette writes. The Steelers may try to sign tackle Kelvin Beachum, but they may not pay him what he’s likely worth on the opening market. Last year, Pro Football Focus rated him as the fifth best left tackle in the game.
  • The Lions hosted a ton of notable veteran free agents on Wednesday but did not sign any of them immediately after the session, as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press writes. Wide receivers Brad Smith and Robert Meachem and running backs Ben Tate and Daniel Thomas were among the free agents in Detroit today but none of them have deals – at least not yet. The Lions appear set at running back after drafting Ameer Abdullah in the second round to pair with Joique Bell, but Bell is still recovering from offseason surgeries. Tate and Thomas, in theory, could be called upon if Bell’s recovery takes longer than expected.
  • Bears head coach John Fox is unsure if Martellus Bennett will attend the team’s mandatory minicamp, as Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com writes. The tight end is pushing for a raise from the $4.9MM base he’s scheduled to earn in 2015. The 2014 Pro Bowler has two years left on a four-year, $20.4MM deal he signed in March of 2013.

Ben Tate To Work Out For Lions

Running back Ben Tate is on his way to Detroit for a Tuesday workout with the Lions, a source tells ESPN.com’s Josina Anderson (on Twitter).

Tate, 26, was long viewed as one of the best running backs in the NFL without a starting job. When he broke free from being Arian Foster‘s understudy, however, he did not impress. After signing with the Browns, Tate was leapfrogged on the depth chart by rookies Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West. Tate was bounced in November and picked up off waivers by the Vikings, but his stint only lasted until week 7.

The former Auburn standout received one more opportunity in the postseason, signing with the Steelers and seeing five carries in Pittsburgh’s Wild Card loss to the Ravens. He’s now an unrestricted free agent, and – unsurprisingly – he’s generating much less interest this offseason than he did a year ago. Tate worked out for Dallas back in May but didn’t land a deal, despite their murky running back situation.

For the season, Tate accumulated just 371 rushing yards on 119 carries, good for an average of 3.1 yards per rush. That’s a significant step down from the 4.7 mark he posted during the previous three seasons in Houston, over a span of 421 carries.