The defending Super Bowl champions, Seattle Seahawks has just loss one of their key playmakers but the Detroit Lions have certainly gained another playmaker in the process as they come to a contract agreement with wide receiver Golden Tate. According to multiple reports, the Lions and Tate have reached a five-year contract agreement, for $31.25 million, with $13.25 million guaranteed.
The news was first reported by Detroit Lions insider and writer Tim Twentyman, it would later be confirmed by Josina Anderson of ESPN and Golden Tate.
I don’t know about you but this is a great move for the Lions, especially offensively. At 25 years old, Tate is a valuable asset to the Lions. In four seasons, he has caught 165 passes for 2,195 yards and 15 touchdowns. Last season he caught 64 passes for 898 yards and five touchdowns.
Now last season with the Seahawks, Tate was their main weapon and source of production but with the Lions, he will be No.2 receiver and overall complementary piece to Lions star receiver, Calvin Johnson. By now everyone knows that the Lions have lacked consistent production from the receiver position beyond Johnson and with the acquisition of Tate, the Lions now have another productive receiver who they can count on.
Apparently Pete Damilatis of Pro Football Focus feels the same way after he tweeted that Tate has the best hands in the NFL.
I am inclined to agree with Pete, there is no doubt that Tate has great hands, speed and athleticism, and as the No.2 receiver he will have a chance to be more productive than he has ever been. Think about it, due to Johnson’s great play and overall play-making ability, defenses won’t focus as much on Tate like they did in Seattle because they will be to busy double teaming Johnson, so that will open up more opportunities for Tate to make plays. The great thing about Tate, is the fact that he can make plays anywhere on the field. As a small receiver, he has great speed and agility and it’s because of those skills that he has the ability to make plays in the open field after the catch. Due to his great athleticism and overall great hands, Tate has the ability to make plays in the red-zone or down the field. The acquisition of Tate as a whole makes it harder for defenses to defend the Lions in the passing game because both Johnson and Tate have play-making ability, so defenses will be force to choose who they want to focus on and double team.
What I like most about Tate is the fact that he is no stranger to adversity and working for his success. Due to his recent great play, many forget that he struggled early in his career with the Seahawks, starting just five games through his first two professional seasons, but he continued to work hard and by 2012, he become the highly touted player that he was considered to be during his college career at Notre Dame.
Most importantly, Tate wants to be here in Detroit, as unrestricted free-agent, Tate had a choice of where he wanted to go and he chose to Detroit. I believe he is ready to be a glue-man and potential playmaker for this team, just like he was for Seattle and I think he wants to help the Lions achieve greatness like he did with the Seattle, which makes him an even better fit for this Lion team.
Which leads me to the 2014 NFL Draft, with Tate now on the roster, the Lions now have a total of 10 receivers under contract. Those 10 receivers are Johnson, Tate, Kris Durham, Ryan Broyles, Kevin Ogletree, Jeremy Ross, Corey Fuller, Patrick Edwards and Cody Wilson.
Early on there was a lot of speculation that the Lions could take a wide receiver with 10th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. However, with the acquisition of Tate, some don’t think so. Honestly, it’s still a possibility that the Lions could take a wide receiver but I stand by what I said before about the Lions, when it comes to drafting a receiver.
Now if you’re a Lions fans who is thinking wide receiver in the first round you have to remember that right now the only wide receiver projected to be taken in the Top 10 is Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins. That isn’t to say that there aren’t any more good and talented receivers in this year’s draft worthy of being taken in the Top 10 because that just isn’t true. However, until pro days, the NFL combine and team interviews take place, Watkins is predicted to be the only receiver taken in the Top 10 of the draft while the other receivers are expected to be taken later in the draft.
As of right now, I personally don’t expect Watkins to drop to the Lions at the 10th pick but if for whatever reason he does drop to the Lions, I think the Lions need to take advantage and draft him. It’s very clear that the Lions have a great receiver in Calvin Johnson but the Lions still needs a reliable and electric receiver to help carry the load. As I mentioned above, Nate Burleson had his moments with the Lions but he is still inconsistent and the rest of the Lion receivers like Kris Durham are solid but lack speed, elusiveness and consistency. Drafting Watkins give the Lions are versatile option to throw to besides Johnson. This past season he displayed his great speed, hands and route-running prowess. He also does a good job of creating and gaining yards after the catch due to his good vision and agility. Overall, he makes up for what Burleson and Durham lack which is consistent speed and elusiveness. Lions could use Watkins in a variety of ways but particularly with short passes and hand-offs, which gives him the opportunity to make plays after the catch.
Now if your Lions fan who is demanding that the Lions draft a wide receiver with the 10th pick, I must say I disagree. I am perfectly fine with the Lions drafting a wide receiver with the 10th pick but it must be the right receiver that fits what the Lions need but if they can’t find that in the first round, I encourage them to draft a cornerback with the 10th pick. For those Lions fans who want a wide receiver with the 10th pick, you must keep in mind that Watkins may not available for the Lions at the 10th pick. However, there are plenty of good and talented wide receivers that will be available after him that the Lions could take with the 10th pick like Marqise Lee of USC, Mike Evans of Texas A&M or Allen Robinson of Penn State, or the Lions could be patient and grab an underrated wide receiver in the later rounds, like Brandin Cooks of Oregon State, Devin Street of Pittsburgh or even Jeremy Gallon of Michigan and that’s just to name a few.
Personally, I would like to see the Lions go a draft a cornerback or safety with the 10th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft but I am not the one making the decisions. However, if you want to see what the Lions options are at cornerback and safety in the draft, feel free to view my article that I wrote where I break down the options that the Lions have at the cornerback and safety position in the draft.
However, getting back to the signing of Tate, I stand by what I said above, this is a great move by the Lions and I am excited to see Tate perform this season in a Lions jersey and I’m sure other Lion fans are too. Acquiring Tate is a great move but the Lions still have some work to do, specifically on the defensive side of the ball, so let’s see what moves the Lions continue to make.
Written by LBeasley (Lauren Beasley), Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit