For teams to be successful in the NFL, they have to make some difficult decisions. The Lions did just that Tuesday.
“It’s a business.”
You hear it all the time. Players develop relationships with teammates, fans and cities, so it’s not always easy to show them the door when it’s about that time. But it’s an important part of building a winner, and the Detroit Lions did it Tuesday afternoon when they dealt wide receiver Golden Tate to the Philadelphia Eagles for a third-round pick.
“It’s important for us, when we evaluate everything that we do as a franchise, I think there’s certain value that we can get at times during the season that will help us long term and obviously have faith and confidence in the people that are on this team right now,” Lions head coach Matt Patricia said, according to ESPN’s Michael Rothstein.
That’s a more formal way of pointing out that Tate was in the final year of his contract, and that he was probably not showing indications of plans to-resign with Detroit in free agency.
It’s a tough pill to swallow for the Lions, as Tate was in his fifth year with the team and had become a vocal leader in the locker room. But when you consider Tate’s contract, his age, and the depth behind him, it becomes clear that it was the right move to make.
Tate is due to be a free agent at the end of the season. This will mark his second time hitting the open market, which signifies the mileage on his body. Tate just turned 30, which isn’t exactly young by wide receiver standards. If Detroit let him play out his contract with them and tried to re-sign him, they’d be committing a lot of money to a guy whose best days are behind him.
Meanwhile, the Lions have Marvin Jones Jr. and Kenny Golladay waiting in the wings. Both are long, athletic receivers who are known for their ability to go up and grab 50-50 balls but aren’t too shabby as route runners either.
A sort of wide receiver logjam had surfaced in Detroit prior to the trade. Jones didn’t catch more than four passes in a game until Week 8. Golladay has just three catches total in his last two games. Receivers with that sort of ability — especially with Matthew Stafford throwing them the ball — shouldn’t go through dry spells like that.
It’s tough to do, but deals like the one that Detroit made today are the one that teams are thankful for down the road.