Golden Tate has made a living by reading coverages, but he misread the direction of the Giants.
Tate was clear when he entered free agency in 2019 that he wanted to chase a second Super Bowl ring in the twilight of his career. While it is unknown what other offers he had, Tate signing a four-year, $37.5 million contract with the Giants in the aftermath of trading away Odell Beckham Jr. immediately felt like a mismatch.
The Giants haven’t won a playoff game since 2011, own the NFL’s worst record (13-44) since 2017 and are 3-14 with Tate in the lineup. There are signs of a brighter future – one of the NFL’s youngest teams has four losses decided in the final minute in its 1-6 record – but that doesn’t help a 32-year-old receiver playing out the stretch.
With the trade deadline set for 20 hours after the “Monday Night Football” kickoff, is Tate’s game against the Buccaneers his last with the Giants? The receiver market is flooded with options, but Tate could be used as a half-season rental at about $4.7 million with no dead cap space in 2021 if released.
“He is a guy who has made plays throughout his career,” wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert said, “and I think he feels like he can do more and make more plays. That’s probably more of his frustration than anything. But he’s been a really good teammate, doing whatever he’s been asked to do. I think he will continue to do that.”
Tate was not available to the media upon request last week, but let’s review his thought process in January 2019, after his Eagles lost in the playoffs. The Lions received a third-round pick from the Eagles at the 2018 deadline. The Giants would have to settle for less.
“I want to get back to getting deep into the playoffs and win Super Bowls,” Tate said two months before joining the Giants. “In Detroit, I had a bunch of really great stats but no playoff wins. I know what talent I have and I know what I bring to the table, but at the end of the day it’s about winning playoff games and getting to Super Bowls.”
Tate, who won a Super Bowl with the Seahawks, thought he might be able to make a run with two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning. But Tate’s season-opening four-game suspension and Manning’s early benching in 2019 meant they only played two games together last December before Manning retired.
The three-time 1,000-yard receiver set a personal six-year high 13.8 yards per catch as a weapon during Daniel Jones’ rookie season. He turned tight coverages into big touchdowns against the Dolphins and Patriots – and he did the same thing against the Eagles last week for a well-timed sign of life with his statistics down across the board.
“Golden has had good ball skills since his days back at Notre Dame,” Tolbert said. “When you go through his career, he’s always made that contested catch. He doesn’t have the biggest stature, but when you throw the ball to him – a lot of times at crucial points in the game – he has a tendency to make plays on the ball.”
Tate had one last chance Monday to convince a contender to see it that way, too.
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