Patricia talks about the difficult decision to trade Tate and the balance of the franchise's immediate and long-term future. Justin Rogers, The Detroit News
Allen Park — If the Detroit Lions were going to deal Golden Tate, the offer needed to be compelling.
Hours before the NFL trade deadline on Tuesday, the Philadelphia Eagles met the demand, agreeing to send a 2019 third-round pick in exchange for the productive slot receiver. The compensation was first reported by ESPN.
Tate took to social media to express his gratitude to the Lions and the team's fans.
"On the plane to Philadelphia, reflecting on my time in Detroit," Tate wrote. "Can't thank the Lions organization enough for the commitment they made to me and my family. I'm proud to say that every time I stepped onto the field in Honolulu blue, I gave everything I had. Thank you to the Ford family, my coaches and my teammates. We made a lot of memories together that I'll never forget.
"Most of all, I would like to thank the Detroit community for embracing my family," Tate continued. "Elise and I tried to impact the local community through our foundation as much as possible and you guys supported us through every initiative! We are forever thankful."
A second-round pick out of Notre Dame in 2010, Tate spent his first four seasons with the Seattle Seahawks. After steadily improving his production each of those seasons, and earning a Super Bowl ring his final year in Seattle, he cashed in as a free agent in 2014, signing a five-year, $31 million pact with Detroit. The thought was he'd serve as a much-needed complement to Calvin Johnson.
In four-plus seasons with the Lions, Tate proved to be that and much more. He quickly established himself as a bargain, catching at least 90 passes each of his first four years in Detroit, while topping 1,000 yards three times.
At the time of the trade, Tate was leading the team in both receptions (44) and receiving yards (517).
“On behalf of our entire organization, I would like to sincerely thank Golden for his countless contributions to our team during his time as a Detroit Lion," general manager Bob Quinn wrote in a statement. "For more than four years Golden displayed an unwavering commitment to not only his coaches and teammates, but also the City of Detroit. The impact he made on and off the field set an example for our team and serves as a testament to his character."
Tate leaves the Lions as one of the team's most productive receivers of all-time. His 416 receptions rank fifth in franchise history, behind Johnson, Herman Moore, Johnnie Morton and Brett Perriman. Tate ranks seventh in receiving yardage, and his 66.8 yards per game was exceeded only by Johnson (86.1).
Tate's production could largely be attributed to his work after the ball was in his hands. His elusiveness in the open field has been unmatched at his position, as he regularly led receivers in making tacklers miss. That skill routinely landed him at or near the top of the leaderboard in yards after the catch each of the past four seasons.
The Lions rotate all of their receivers through the slot, but Tate was the primary option in that role. Detroit is likely to replace his snaps with a combination of veteran TJ Jones and undrafted rookie Brandon Powell, who was active for the first time this season last Sunday against Seattle.
Tate had embraced mentoring Powell this season after he showed some Tate-like elusiveness during training camp and the preseason.
"I’m going to teach Brandon Powell every lick of knowledge I can teach him to give him the best chance to succeed in this league because I think he is truly a great talent,” Tate said last month. “He excites me when I watch him and he reminds me of a young me, but even better. This guy doesn’t mess up very much.”
Playing behind Marvin Jones, Kenny Golladay and Tate, TJ Jones has been limited to three receptions this season. But last season, filling in when Golladay was dealing with a hamstring injury, Jones churned out a career-high 30 receptions for 399 yards.
The addition of Philadelphia's third-round choice this year helps replenish Detroit's position in the round after the team sent its third-round choice to the New England Patriots during this year's draft to select defensive tackle Da'Shawn Hand.
The Lions are now scheduled to have nine picks in the upcoming draft, including an extra sixth- and seventh-rounder from previous deals. The team previously had two fifth-round choices, but shipped one to the New York Giants last week in exchange for defensive tackle Damon Harrison.
Tate lands in Philadelphia, where the defending Super Bowl champions are 4-4 and on the outside looking in on the NFC playoff picture. Washington holds a 1.5 game advantage in the division.
By trading Tate now, the Lions clear his remaining $3.7 million in salary off the books. Any amount of cap space the Lions don't use this season can be carried over to 2019.