The Brandon Tate era in Cincinnati has somewhat shockingly come to an end as the Bengals have released the veteran wide receiver.
The move happened prior to the Tuesday deadline for rosters to be cut down to 75 players. According to Bengals.com’ Geoff Hobson, Tate’s locker was cleared out and his nameplate removed on Tuesday morning. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport confirmed the news.
The #Bengals have cut long-time return man and WR Brandon Tate, source said. Did it early to give him time to catch on.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 30, 2016
Year after year, the Bengals have brought in candidates to test out their skills in the return game as well as to be a receiver, but, Tate has won the returning job and thus a backend spot on the Bengals’ wide receiver roster annually since 2011.
Tate was re-signed by the Bengals in March right before he would have became a free agent. The one-year deal was for $1,024,000 with just $100,000 guaranteed.
In 2015, Tate had just two receptions for 59 yards including 1 touchdown. In the return game, he had 27 punt returns for 171 yards, 0 touchdowns, a long of 18 and a 6.3 yards per return average. On kick returns, Tate had 18 returns for 413 yards including a long of 58 and a 22.9 yards per kick return average.
Tate has totaled 901 yards on 57 receptions in seven years in the NFL, five of which were in Cincinnati after his first two seasons came in New England. He has started 18 games during his career, which now appears to be over in Cincinnati. Tate is the Bengals’ all-time punt return leader.
Undrafted rookie Alex Erickson was brought in this offseason with low expectation which he quickly blew away. Erickson has scored three touchdowns this preseason, one on a punt return and two on offense. His 80-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first week of the preseason immediately turned heads and made him someone to watch to unseat Tate. In Week 2 of the preseason, Erickson had 1 punt return for 30 yards. In the third preseason game, Erickson had 2 punt returns for 57 yards including a long of 39 yards. He also returned a kickoff for 31 yards. Erickson is averaging a ridiculous 41.75 yards per punt return thus far in the preseason, and at that rate, the Bengals had no choice but to cut Tate in favor of the dynamic rookie who has caught touchdown passes on offense and has been a part of the run game, too.
Tate has had some highs and lows in Cincinnati but it seems he’ll be taking his talents elsewhere in 2016.