The Biggest Free Agent For Detroit In 2019 Is Up For A Contract Extension.
Last year it was quarterback Matt Stafford, this year it is the wide receiver, Golden Tate. The star wide receiver’s five-year contract for $31 million will be up and at age 30, it will bring up a question mark on whether or not Tate should return to the team in 2019 and beyond.
The age of 30 is big in the NFL. While it is mostly a concern for running backs, by the age of 30 the game can also take a toll on wide receivers. By age 30, your body starts to slow down some, you aren’t as quick as you once were, injury chances could increase, and your production and skill deteriorate. Now while not every player has this effect, as we see quarterback Tom Brady still winning championships at age 39, and defensive end Julius Peppers still being a force on the defensive line at age 37, it can still be a factor in contract negotiations.
Tate appears to still have it in him and barring a strange 2018, he should still be productive well past 30 and continue to be a playmaker in the NFL. This leaves the question of if Tate should be re-signed by the Lions after 2018.
Golden Tate Has Earned An Extension
While starting his career in Seattle, Tate’s best seasons have been in Detroit. Since arriving in Detroit in 2014, Tate has had three 1,000-yard seasons in the four he has played. While in Seattle, his best year was at 898 yards during the final year of his contract.
Since 2014, Tate has started in 60 of the 64 games Detroit has played, catching 372 passes for 4,224 yards and 19 touchdowns. His presence on the field is outstanding and before Calvin Johnson retired in 2015, he and Tate were a great one-two punch with a deep threat and a slot receiver that can make guys miss.
Since Johnson’s departure, Tate has still been productive with the wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. Tate has had a minor character issue back in 2016 and was benched for his behavior. Besides that minor hiccup, Tate has been worth every penny for the Detroit Lions. His type of play has been outstanding and makes this an even tougher decision for GM Bob Quinn as Tate’s worth may be too much for Quinn’s liking.
Golden Tate’s Talents Are Hard To Replace
Tate is known for making defenders miss. That is his cliche. Not many players in the NFL are known for forcing defenders to miss tackles, and over the past five years, Tate has led that category in four of the five years.
Golden Tate forced the most missed tackles after the catch, again. pic.twitter.com/DKPA43PXI9
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) January 4, 2018
Tate’s quickness and shiftiness are how he racks up his yardage. While he can go deep on the outside if needed, his best type of plays are short-yardage throws and let him control how he gets the yards. He can turn a one-yard pass into a 10-yard gain. Wide receiver screens are big for him too.
Nobody forced missed tackles as a receiver quite like Golden Tate, and it's not even close! pic.twitter.com/GHGqkYBunc
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) March 21, 2018
This type of talent is hard to find in the NFL. Not many wide receivers can do this, and one thing about Golden Tate compared to some others is his contract is up after 2018, while others are locked up for a while like Tate was in 2014.
One player that is expected to get paid during the 2019 NFL free agency at the same position is the wide receiver, Brandin Cooks. Cooks is 24 going on 25 and will be a top-paid wide receiver in 2019 and somebody Tate could compare his contract extension too if he waits until after the season to start the conversation. Another wide receiver that Tate could compare himself to is Jarvis Landry. Landry got a five year deal for $75 million from the Cleveland Browns.
Tate won’t get anything close to that due to his age, but he could look at those players and see what they are getting paid to compare himself to.
The upcoming NFL free agency class of 2019 doesn’t look too strong at the wide receiver position, as most of the players are hitting their prime and could cost too much for Detroit, with names such as Randall Cobb, Terrelle Pryor, and Tavon Austin to name just a few that will hit the market.
Golden Tate’s Contract Can Be Team-Friendly
While it’s possible that Tate doesn’t care what team he ends up playing for, as long as he gets paid, I will find that hard to believe as Tate wants to win. He loved winning a Super Bowl in Seattle and has wanted the same feeling for Detroit. One way he can make that a reality is coming back on a contract that is friendly towards the team and can help them sign other players to get the team ready for a championship run.
When comparing Tate to other 30-year-old (29-year-olds at the time of the signing as well) wide receivers who have signed contracts at that age, it could be a possibility that Tate could be cheaper to keep than we thought.
Now, Golden Tate is easily worth more than the $18.79 million the average is giving him. Tate won’t get Pierre Garcon type of money unless he goes to a team like Garcon did (the 49ers) that has the salary cap and desperate need for a star wide receiver. His contract could be like DeSean Jackson’s, as Jackson was still doing well in Washington, putting up two 1,000 yard seasons in his three years there.
The Lions need to also be smart about Tate’s age. While he will slow down and not be as fast, quick, and explosive as he is now, so the longest the Lions should offer Tate is a four-year deal. Will they? Unlikely. The best case for Tate to return is if Detroit offers him a three-year contract. How much you ask? Well, Tate can’t be underpaid, but roughly $36.7 million in cap space according to spotrac.com, and with defensive end Ziggy Ansah and defensive back Quandre Diggs both up for contracts as well, Detroit can’t offer him something crazy.
A perfect deal for Detroit to offer Golden Tate is three years for $24 million. Roughly $8 million a year, and they can backload it if they feel safer by doing so. This way, Detroit gets Tate for the rest of his prime years, and Tate gets a better payout than the average wide receiver his age. Overall it just seems that Tate can come back with a fair value and his type of play is hard to replicate. Detroit can’t let him walk, as it could set the offense back just as they have the tires spinning.
If you think otherwise, check out Kurt’s article here.