1 - The Eagles aren’t ready to give up on the 2018 season
Nor should they be.
At 4-4, the Eagles are still very much alive in the NFC playoff picture. Only the 5-2 Washington Redskins rank ahead of the Eagles in the NFC East. Philadelphia still gets to play them twice this season.
Qualifying for the post-season certainly isn’t a guarantee for this Eagles team. Football Outsiders’ metrics only give Philly a 21.0% chance to make the playoffs. There are obviously very real concerns with this year’s team that were on display during the disappointing start to this season.
Despite the reasons for pessimism, the Eagles decided spending a 2019 third-round pick could go towards savings the season. Aggressive behavior played a big part in the Eagles winning the Super Bowl earlier this year. That doesn’t guarantee that it’ll work again but at the very least the Eagles are an improved team entering the second half of the season. We’ll see how that manifests.
The feeling here is that the Eagles are allowed to believe they still have a chance given the way Carson Wentz has played this season. With a potential MVP candidate like Wentz under center, it’s entirely possible this team could get hot at the right time and go on a run.
2 - The Eagles just upgraded in the YAC department
I’ve already shared these stats multiple times now but I feel the need to emphasize them once more. From Pro Football Focus:
His calling card has been his shiftiness in the open field and yards-after-catch ability. Since 2014, no wide receiver has more yards after the catch than Tate with 2,790 yards. It isn’t particularly close either, as the next closest player is Antonio Brown with 400 fewer yards after the catch on 102 more receptions. During that period, over half of Tate’s yardage has come after the catch. 49 wide receivers have received at last 300 regular-season targets since 2014; Tate is one of only three, along with Randall Cobb and Jarvis Landry, who has more yards after the catch than yards before the catch. His ability to create extra yardage in the open field is second to none. Part of what makes Tate so special after the catch is his ability to make potential tacklers miss. Who is the leader in avoided tackles by wide receivers since 2014? No surprises – it’s Golden Tate by a healthy margin. Tate has made 108 potential tacklers miss in the last four-plus seasons. Not only is that the most by any wide receiver, but it is over 25 more than the next closest player.
One of the big issues with the 2018 Eagles is their failure to create big plays. Tate will certainly help in this regard. He may not be the traditional deep threat the Eagles could really use on this team but he’s still going to generate big plays with his incredible ability to get yards after the catch.
Given that the Eagles only rank tied for 19th in offensive points per game this season, it’s clear the team needed another weapon for Doug Pederson to work with. Adding Tate helps fix that problem.
3 - It’ll be interesting to see how this move impacts Nelson Agholor
BGN’s Benjamin Solak did a great job of breaking down how the Eagles can use their new toy. He specifically touched on how the Eagles can have Tate and Agholor co-exist despite both of them being primarily perceived as slot receivers.
For now, all we can do is speculate. It’ll be interesting to see the actual snap counts showing who’s lining up where and how often they’re doing it. Prior to adding Tate, Agholor and Alshon Jeffery were clearly the Eagles’ top receivers in terms of playing time. Jordan Matthews has trailed behind them as their third option. Tate’s addition figures to push JMatt further down the depth chart despite his good game against the Jaguars in London.
Tate’s presence doesn’t just impact Agholor in the short-term. There are long-term implications that also must be considered. Agholor is currently under contract at a $9.4 million cap figure in 2019. That fifth-year option is only guaranteed for injury, however, meaning the Eagles could ultimately cut him after this season and save all that money.
The Eagles could move on from Agholor, who’s been off to a slow start in 2018, and potentially re-sign Tate to take his place. That doesn’t seem likely, though, with the 30-year-old Tate commanding a big new contract after this season. Tate might very well cost more than the Eagles can reasonably afford. Signing the 25-year-old Agholor to an extension, meanwhile, could lower his 2019 cap figure and make keeping him more reasonable.
Obviously, these are decisions to be made after the season. In the meantime, the Eagles just need to worry about how the players fit together on the field.
4 - The cost was not ideal but it can be mitigated
Giving up a 2019 third-round pick to acquire eight games of Tate is a significant cost. It’s not ideal because the Eagles are going to be tight on cap space moving forward and draft picks are the best devices for acquiring young, inexpensive talent.
With that said, it’s not like giving up a third is a total disaster. The Eagles still project to have 10 picks in the 2018 NFL Draft. And hey, it’s not like the team gave up a first-round pick for an underachieving player like another team in the NFC East did.
2018 stats— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) October 30, 2018
Golden Tate: 44 recs, 517 yards, 3 TD — Eagles acquired for 3rd round pick
Demaryius Thomas: 36 recs, 402 yards, 3 TD — Texans acquired for 4th round pick and swap of 7ths
Amari Cooper: 22 recs, 280 yards, 1 TD — Cowboys acquired for 1st round pick
If Tate leaves the Eagles in free agency after this season, Philadelphia’s cost to acquire him will be mitigated by the 2020 compensatory pick that’s potentially coming back in return. Depending on what kind of contract Tate signs, that picks could realistically be a fourth-rounder (give or take a round). If that’s the case, the Eagles will have essentially traded a 2019-third round pick for Tate and a 2020 fourth-round pick. That’s not bad.
For more perspective on the value of the asset the Eagles gave up, here’s a look back at the Philadelphia’s last 11 third-round picks: Rasul Douglas, Isaac Seumalo, Jordan Hicks, Josh Huff, Bennie Logan, Nick Foles, Curtis Marsh, Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, Bryan Smith, Stewart Bradley, and Tony Hunt. Factoring the anomalous Foles in here is complicated since he was traded away and came back but on the whole this is a group that features some significant contributors as well as a bunch of misses. Picking in the third-round hardly guarantees getting a great player.
5 - Tate’s addition could help with offensive line issues
Tate won’t be suiting up to play right tackle but his presence could make life easier on the offensive line. With Lane Johnson reportedly expected to miss a month due to an MCL injury, and with Jason Peters already banged up, the Eagles’ offensive line isn’t in tip top shape. The Eagles might need to get the ball out quicker at times. If that’s the case, having Tate can help in that regard. His ability to gets yards after the catch means the Eagles don’t just have to have Wentz stand back in the pocket to buy time for players to get open.
6 - Tate gives the Cowboys trouble
In a game against the Cowboys earlier this year, Tate caught all eight of his targets for 132 yards and two extremely respectful (in a good way) touchdowns.
In four career games against Dallas, Tate has 18 receptions for 236 yards (13.11 average) and two scores. In other words, he typically gives the Cowboys trouble.
That’s good news for an Eagles team that’s going to play the Cowboy twice in their final eight games. The first of those two matchups obviously comes in Tate’s Week 10 debut with the Eagles.
7 - Eagles fans are going to enjoy Tate
Whether you agree with the trade or not, and there are fair arguments for both sides, what’s done is done and Tate is an Eagle. And that’s something to be excited about because he’s a very fun player to watch.
Tate just seems like one of those players who really appeals to this fan base. Eagles fans should love his toughness and desire to fight for every yard after contract. They should also love the swagger he brings to this team. How can you not appreciate those clips of him taunting the Cowboys as he’s running into the end zone? I’m sure he’s going to have some fun moments like that here even if his Eagles career only last eight games.