In a surprise late October trade-deadline move, the Detroit Lions traded Golden Tate to the Philadelphia Eagles. The move, which sent a third-round pick to the Lions, seemed like a power-play for the Eagles on the back of a rent-a-receiver. However, it turned out poorly for the Lions who lost Marvin Jones Jr. to a knee injury shortly thereafter, ending his season. The move didn’t pan out quite the way the Eagles envisioned either, despite a healthy target share for Tate. Entering the 2019 NFL season, Tate will be an unrestricted free agent.
Golden Tate 2019 NFL Free Agency Profile
The Lions began the season as one of the league leaders in pass attempts-per-game. Golden Tate was part of a trio of receivers that included Marvin Jones Jr. and Kenny Golladay. Tate commanded 26.6 percent of the target share through the first seven games, which led the team. He also led the receivers with 517 yards on 44 receptions. It was the last year on a five-year deal with Detroit.
At the time of the trade, the Eagles were 4-4 and had a receiving core mainly consisting of Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor. They were rounded out by a returning free-agent, Jordan Matthews. Tate seemed like a solid third option after the Eagles lost veteran Mike Wallace to a season-ending leg injury in week two. After a 12-day acclimation period, Tate took the field for the second half of his season.
There is a certain degree of difficulty for a receiver to make a mid-season move to a new city, offense, quarterback, and personnel. Despite receiving a fair amount of targets, the Eagles and Tate didn’t seem to connect well. Part of it could be chalked up to the transitionary difficulties while other times it appeared the Eagles didn’t know how best to utilize him. Part of it was also the abundance of slot receivers on the roster. Both Agholor and Jordan Matthews have spent considerable time lining up in the slot, the position Tate most often plays as well.
Despite a strong start to the season, Tate finished with his lowest yardage total (795) since his 2012 season with the Seattle Seahawks.
Tate has made it clear that he wouldn’t mind being back in Philly for next season and having another chance a deep run into the playoffs. However, it may not make the most business sense. Tate will be 31 heading into next season, and will probably want a larger contract than the Eagles are willing to pony up. The Eagles may decide to stick with the cheaper and younger option in Nelson Agholor for slot duties.
The Indianapolis Colts surprisingly shaped up in an impressive fashion before falling flat in the playoffs this year. If Tate is looking for a team that has a chance to make a run, the Colts could end up being a player. They have cap space to chase another big name receiver if they so choose. With T.Y. Hilton on the outside, a talented possession style slot receiver might bolster the receiving options for an already dangerous offensive team.
The San Francisco 49ers would also be a fit when it comes to cap space and available talent. Admittedly, pairing George Kittle with Golden Tate would make a lot of sense for the return of Jimmy Garropolo and the passing attack. However, it might not be a fit for Tate who seems to truly want a contending team to move forward with. Another notable option would be the Washington Redskins. The Redskins were so decimated by injury that it’s difficult to say how good they could be with a healthy complement of players on both sides of the ball. They may also have bigger concerns with the looming injury and recovery timetable for Alex Smith.
Last Word on Golden Tate
Tate has proven that he is a reliable possession style of receiver. Prior to the trade, he was on pace for over 1,000 yards receiving. As far as slot receivers go, he excels at making big plays off of screen passes in open space. While he may not flourish in a new system immediately, he would bring value to any team looking for a veteran presence out of the slot and seems to pick up offenses quickly.
Tate will be 31-years-old heading into this season, which is still a few years below the dreaded age-of-decline for the position. While he certainly doesn’t appear to have lost a step in his game, it may dictate the length of the contract offers he will receive. Tate should be one of the more coveted options for teams looking to fill a receiver need on their roster.
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