In all of the chaos of the last few years of Eagles football, it can be tough to remember each and every fallen domino. So let me remind you: veteran WR Golden Tate was actually here. He played in Philly. Yeah, for real!
The Eagles acquired Golden Tate for a third round pick in the middle of the 2018 season. He played eight games, caught 30 passes, and had little to no effect on the offense. In fact, it was taking snaps away from Tate and giving them to Dallas Goedert (i.e. moving from 11 to 12 personnel as the base of the offense) that galvanized the Eagles’ passing game down the stretch. Then he was gone, signing with the New York Giants and returning a fourth round compensatory selection in the 2020 NFL Draft (that pick became Jack Driscoll).
Tate played with the Giants for the last two seasons and, while his snap counts are diminished in his after-30 years, he returned to the highly efficient play he couldn’t find in Philadelphia. Despite his solid play as a depth receiver, the Giants cut Tate two years into his 4-year, $37.5M deal, which created $6M in cap space for New York. Of course, Tate’s clear frustration about his playing time and volume — which led to a disciplinary benching — didn’t help the matter.
Tate remains a free agent, and has now been frustrated with low volume in each of his last two stops: Philadelphia and New York. It makes sense that few teams would leap at the chance to sign Tate, in that he’d likely not get the volume anywhere in the NFL that he thinks he deserves. But Tate remains interested in signing with a team, and on SiriusXM Radio this past week, listed some teams he’d like to join.
“I would love to go back home to Tennessee...Indy, over with Carson Wentz...Obviously, the L.A. Rams would be fantastic with Stafford. I had my best years with Stafford. I really like the entire NFC West, to be honest.”
These teams all make sense. Tate grew up just outside of Nashville, where the Titans play — and even after the addition of Julio Jones, Tennessee’s WR depth chart is thin, especially at slot receiver. The Rams were in on the Julio Jones conversations, so they’re clearly willing to add to a room featuring Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, despite recent additions of DeSean Jackson and Tutu Atwell — and of course, the Stafford connection helps.
And then there’s Indianapolis. Again, a team that needs WR depth, with questions about Parris Campbell’s health and Zach Pascal’s ceiling creating a particular void in the slot. And again, a team with a quarterback who has thrown to Tate before, in ex-Eagle Carson Wentz.
Tate and Wentz never fully got on the same page during the 2018 season, so it is a bit surprising to see Tate chomping at the bit to play with him again. But of course, what exactly went on behind the scenes in Philadelphia remains obscured. After the 2018 season, the initial rumors regarding Wentz’s poor locker room attitude and vision for the team began swirling. It was understood at the time, and remains the leading theory now, that Alshon Jeffery was the source of many complaints about target distribution. In that Jeffery’s targets dropped after the Tate trade, maybe Wentz did quickly establish a strong relationship with Tate.
Regardless, the Colts would make sense for Tate even if Wentz weren’t the QB — but if Wentz was tight with Tate while he was in Philadelphia, any influence he has on decision-making in Indianapolis could increase the likelihood they give Tate a shot to make the team in camp; or perhaps sign him during the season if injury strikes. Not that the Eagles’ 2018 offense was particularly daunting, but it seems another piece of it could be heading to Indianapolis this year.