4:06pm: The Vikings have officially confirmed their claim of Tate, announcing that they’ve waived tight end MarQueis Gray to accommodate the move (Twitter link).
3:10pm: A day after receiving word that starting running back Adrian Peterson has been suspended the rest of the 2014 season, the Vikings have added another back to their roster, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com, who reports (via Twitter) that Minnesota has claimed Ben Tate off waivers from the Browns.
Tate, 26, signed with the Browns in the offseason in the hopes of taking over as the team’s No. 1 back, but was surpassed on the depth chart by rookie Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West. In eight games for Cleveland this season, Tate carried the ball for just 333 yards on 106 attempts, a 3.1 yards per carry average. After griping publicly about his lack of playing time and losing nine yards on two carries on Sunday, Tate was cut by the Browns on Tuesday.
Without Peterson for the majority of the season, the Vikings have relied primarily on Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata as their ball-carriers, but both players missed practice today with injuries, as Ben Goessling of ESPN.com notes (via Twitter). Given the banged-up state of their backfield, and the fact that Peterson almost certainly won’t see the field this season, it makes sense that the Vikings could use some depth at the running back position.
There had been speculation that the Colts, who saw Ahmad Bradshaw go down with a season-ending ankle injury on Sunday night, may submit a claim for Tate, but Indianapolis would’ve been behind Minnesota in waiver priority — the order is determined by record, with the league’s worst teams getting the first crack at players who have been released.
By claiming Tate rather than signing him as a free agent, the Vikings will assume the contract that the ex-Texan signed with the Browns back in March. That means that if Tate’s stint in Minnesota during the final six weeks of this season is a success, the team would have the option of keeping him on the roster next season for a base salary of $2.2MM.