Free Agent Fallout: Have The Lions Finally Found Their Second WR In Golden Tate?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The Lions offense is dynamic, led by Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and a two-headed monster in the backfield (Reggie Bush/Joique Bell). However, the team has long lacked a viable option who could make opposing defenses pay as they focused on Johnson. Just look at some of the names that caught passes in 2013:

  • Kris Durham – 38 receptions for 490 yards
  • Nate Burelson – 39 receptions for 461 yards
  • Kevin Ogletree – 13 receptions for 199 yards
  • Ryan Broyles – 8 receptions for 85 yards

In fairness to Burleson, he was held to just 9 games due to injury. Then again he’s played 15 games in the past two years and will be 33-years old by the start of the season. How much could really be expected of him?

Enter Golden Tate, who got a massive contract to land in Detroit (5 years and $31 million, with $13.25 guaranteed). While the team could still look to further address the need (perhaps in the draft), we have to wonder if Tate is going to be the answer they have been looking for.

Granted the Seahawks were not a big-time passing offense, but Tate never had more than 64 receptions, 898 yards or 7 TD in a season. The owner of a career 13.3 yards per reception, he certainly doesn’t seem to be someone who is going to challenge defenses down field.

That was the biggest concern for him coming out of the draft. Here’s what NFL.com had to say (click here for the full scouting report):

“His overall explosiveness is questionable. Is more of a speed-builder than a sudden guy, odd for a shorter receiver. Takes a while to eat up cushions. Top end speed is good but not elite. Can get deep on occasion but doesn’t appear to be a consistent downfield threat.”

Walter Football, meanwhile, compared him to Steve Smith of the New York Giants. Smith had a one big season in New York (107 receptions for 1,220 yards), before injuries ultimately ruined his career. Obviously, don’t expect that type of production out of Tate.

He could do a good job of moving the chains and hurting teams on shorter routes, while the attention is focused on Johnson, but it is hard to expect a major increase in overall production. He should continue to be viewed as nothing more than a fantasy depth option.

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