Golden Tate has been a very productive player for the Detroit Lions, but they should only offer him a short-term contract extension.
The Detroit Lions passing attack has been very dependent on Golden Tate ever since he arrived in Motown. If the team isn’t careful, this could be his last season catching passes from Matthew Stafford.
Tate is entering the last season of the five-year, $31 million deal he signed with the Lions back in 2014. The talented wide receiver has drastically outplayed that contract. He arrived in Detroit to serve as a valuable sidekick for Calvin Johnson. Instead, he’s played more like a true number one wideout in Megatron’s absence.
There can’t be any debate about what Tate means to the Lions offense at the moment. He led the team with 92 receptions last season. Marvin Jones may have narrowly led the team in yards receiving, but it’s Tate that keeps the chains moving for Stafford and company.
The questions the Lions must ask themselves is how much Tate will be worth going forward. The former Notre Dame star is going to turn 30 in August. That isn’t ancient for an NFL wideout, but it does mean the Lions should expect Tate’s performance to decline significantly over the next few years.
That gives new coach Matt Patricia a tough dilemma. He’s been brought into Detroit to fix the Lions defense, but he doesn’t want to upset what’s been a very productive offense. Letting one of Stafford’s favorite receiving targets leave early in his tenure would represent a serious risk.
That’s why the Lions would be smart to play this contract negotiation down the middle. Offering Tate a big money contract extension is a reasonable idea. Offering him another five-year contract would be absolute madness.
Instead, the Lions should offer him a three-year contract that’s consistent with what other top wide receivers are being paid. Tate shouldn’t get Jarvis Landry money, but the team should be comfortable paying him something in the neighborhood of $12 million per season. That would leave him behind some of the game’s highest paid receivers, but would still offer him a significant increase over the $7 million he’s due to make this season.
The danger for the Lions in their talks with Golden Tate is committing too many years, not too many dollars. Detroit should keep Tate for the next few seasons, but they need to make sure they aren’t paying him big money when his performance really starts to slip.