With the Philadelphia Eagles’ season coming to an unceremonious end last Sunday in New Orleans, it is time to look toward the offseason.
Over the next few weeks, the Eagles will have to make some tough decisions about a couple of key players from their Super Bowl run, such as quarterback Nick Foles and defensive end Brandon Graham.
Outside of these fan favorites, there are a host of other players, who will be free agents that made key plays down the stretch to help the Eagles reach the postseason.
Veteran wide receiver Golden Tate III is one of those free agents whom the Eagles’ front office brass will have to take some time to think about re-signing.
The Eagles acquired Tate back in October at the trade deadline from the Detroit Lions in exchange for a 2019 third-round pick. On paper, the idea of Tate in Philly’s offense seemed like a slam-dunk addition, especially with what he did in Detroit.
Despite not being a vertical deep threat, Tate is a YAC (yards after the catch) machine whom you can use in various formations. However, the Eagles’ offensive coaching staff had troubles integrating the 31-year-old wide receiver into the game plan early on.
In his first three games, Tate only had 11 receptions (20 targets) for 97 yards and zero touchdowns. From there, Eagles fans started to question if the team made the right decision to use a draft pick on the veteran wideout.
But to his credit and the Eagles’ coaching staff, they did not give up on making this transition work. Tate would eventually have a breakout performance in a must-win game against Washington in Week 13.
The former second-round pick had seven receptions (seven targets) for 85 yards and a touchdown. In that game alone, you could tell that the Eagles made it an emphasis to get him involved early and often.
However, Tate’s production dropped off again towards the end of the regular season. But in the NFC Wild-Card game against the Chicago Bears, he came up huge with five catches for 46 yards and the game-winning touchdown on fourth-and-goal.
Tate finished his short stint in Philadelphia with 30 catches for 278 yards and two touchdowns. On Monday at the NovaCare Complex, he expressed his desire to return to the Eagles.
“My time is limited. I want to go to a team that has a chance,” Tate said (h/t Geoff Mosher of Inside the Birds Podcast). “If I don’t stay here, of course, I would love to stay here. My years are limited. I don’t have time to go somewhere that wants to rebuild. I need to go somewhere where they believe they can win now. That’s what I want to do, but who knows. Something I have to think about.”
While it is nice to hear that Tate would like to return next season, the Eagles are currently strapped for cash heading into free agency. The only way he could come back is if he would be willing to take a significant pay cut.
Along with the financial ramifications, the Eagles’ front office also has to factor in its wide receiver depth chart heading into next season.
Even though Nelson Agholor and Alshon Jeffery are locked in, Philly has to decide if they want to keep Mike Wallace, who missed a majority of the season with an injury, or Jordan Matthews, who was a solid addition when the team was decimated at the position.
And then they also have to factor in Mack Hollins, who was placed on IR, and Shelton Gibson, who had a stellar preseason but disappeared in the regular season.
Therefore, if the two sides can come to a low-cost contract filled with incentives, then maybe there’s a chance Tate comes back. With a full offseason, he can add another dimension to this passing game and make life easier for Carson Wentz.