How does Golden Tate help the Eagles offense? Let us count the ways. The team's trade-deadline acquisition of Tate, on the final year of his contract, for a 2019 third-round pick immediately makes an offense that has lacked vertical speed and explosive plays much better in both areas.
The Eagles have been looking all season for another receiver on the outside to step up and complement Alshon Jeffery, a game-changing player who controls the action with his size, catch radius, and his ability to ward off defenders and go up and get the football. Mike Wallace and Mack Hollins are on Injured Reserve, with no word on their respective returns. Shelton Gibson has not earned substantial playing time. Jordan Matthews has done a fine job, particularly on third downs of late, and he's still got a role in the offense.
But Tate is a different kind of player.
Extremely productive throughout his career, Tate had 44 receptions in seven games for Detroit. In each of the previous four seasons, Tate had at least 90 receptions. He's a machine, extremely durable and reliable. With Tate in the lineup, the Eagles force defenses to account for him and that's going to take pressure off of Jeffery, it's going to open up opportunities for slot receiver Nelson Agholor, and the middle will have more wiggle room all of a sudden for tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert.
Plus, you're going to see the running game more successful as defenses respect the outside threat of Tate and Jeffery and Agholor and Ertz.
This is a terrific move, although the price of a third-round pick for a player on the final year of his contract is something to discuss. Certainly, Howie Roseman looked down the line and saw the picture and understood the risk of making this deal. For right now, though, it's great. And the Eagles have an extra second-round draft pick next year (from Baltimore) and they're expected to get as many as three or four compensatory picks, so the draft capital is there, even with the third-rounder gone to Detroit now.
It can be argued that, in an offseason of aggressive change, the one area the Eagles didn't upgrade was the wide receiver position after they traded Torrey Smith to Carolina. Wallace was supposed to be that guy, but he suffered a broken leg in Week 2 at Tampa Bay. Even when Wallace played, through the preseason and the two regular-season games, he didn't provide production. He had zero catches in the regular-season opener against Atlanta in 66 snaps. Wallace then played only seven snaps before suffering his injury.
Not having a vertical threat was a drawback for the offense. Defenses inched up in the box and took away the run. Secondaries settled in zones and swarmed receivers and tight ends after the catch. The Eagles want to be better in yards after the catch – they ranked 10th in the NFL in that category entering Sunday's game against Jacksonville, according to STATS Inc.
Tate helps. He's a tough guy, he's going to catch everything from quarterback Carson Wentz, and he's going to be a threat. In Detroit, Tate was the go-to receiver. Twice this season he had more than 100 yards receiving and in three games he was targeted more than 10 times.
So, it's a win for the Eagles. A bold move, yes, given the draft currency surrendered. But no doubt Roseman has looked down the road on this one and considered the impact of losing a third-round draft pick in exchange for a player who has eight regular-season games remaining on his contract. We'll discuss that later when Roseman speaks on the deal. For now, the Eagles are much better on offense with Golden Tate as a threat, as another weapon in a passing-game arsenal that immediately looks a whole lot better, and favorably counters what Dallas did when it added wide receiver Amari Cooper at the cost of a first-round draft pick last week.
It all makes the Sunday night game against the Cowboys in two weeks all the more exciting.