It’s hard to believe, but some people think the Philadelphia Eagles made a mistake on Tuesday, when they made a trade with the Detroit Lions to acquire wide receiver Golden Tate in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2019 NFL draft.
Tate’s resume is impeccable. For one thing, he’s had at least 90 receptions in four consecutive seasons, and the Eagles have never had a wide receiver who caught 90 passes in a single year. Of course, it’s a different game now and all-time Eagles greats like Tommy McDonald, Harold Carmichael and Mike Quick would probably catch that many if they played today, but you get the idea.
And Tate probably won’t catch as many passes with the Eagles as he did with the Lions, because the Eagles tend to spread the ball around more. But the point is that Tate is a reliable target who immediately gives the Eagles’ offense a much-needed boost, on the field and in the locker room.
Still, if you listen to sports talk radio and check out various Twitter accounts, there are a lot of fans who think Eagles general manager Howie Roseman made a bad decision. And the main argument against the trade seems to be that some people believe the price – a third-round pick – was too high for a player on the final year of his contract.
Well, the people who believe that need a refresher course in Eagles draft history, which we are happy to supply. Here are the Eagles’ last 10 third-round draft selections:
2017: DB Rasual Douglas
2016: OL Isaac Seumalo
2015: LB Jordan Hicks
2014: WR Josh Huff
2013: DT Bennie Logan
2012: QB Nick Foles
2011: DB Curtis Marsh
2010: DE Daniel Te’o-Nesheim
2009: LB Bryan Hicks
2008: LB Stewart Bradley
Of that group, only four players became starters – Hicks, Logan, Foles and Bradley – but none of them became stars, with the obvious exception of Nick Foles, who led the Eagles’ remarkable run to the Super Bowl championship last season. Still, Foles has been a second-stringer more often than he’s been a starter and the others are journeymen.
There is an all-timer picked in the third round this century – running back Brian Westbrook in 2002. But here Here are the Eagles’ other third-rounders since 2000: DE Chris Gocong (2006), RB Ryan Moats (2005), DB Matt Ware (2004) and WR Billy McMullen (2003).
Other than Westbrook, I’d take Golden Tate over any of them. Heck, I’d take Tate over all of them. The draft is always a crapshoot, even with a pick as supposedly valuable as a third-rounder, and I’ll take a proven commodity like Tate over a hit-or-miss rookie any day of the week.
Another objection some people have for trade with Detroit is that Tate is in the final year of his contract and could sign with another team next season, which would mean the Eagles are just renting him for the final eight regular-season games of this season and any postseason games the team might play.
What those people seem to miss is that even though the Eagles have struggled at times this year, they’re still the defending Super Bowl champions. It would be foolish for a bad team like the Phoenix Cardinals or New York Giants or Buffalo Bills to make a deal like this. But the Eagles, despite all of their problems this season – and there have been plenty of them – are still a good team. They might not look like much stacked against high-flying teams like the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints, but they proved last year that they’re capable of getting on a roll and staying on a roll all the way to the Super Bowl.
Will that happen again? Probably not. But it could, and it’s Roseman’s job to give his team every chance to get back to the big game with the Roman numeral, and that’s what he did. And the timing of this trade it perfect – it comes right at the halfway point of the Eagles season and during a bye week, so Tate has more time to get used to his new coaches and teammates.
The Eagles need help at other positions, especially running back, defensive back and offensive tackle. But this is a pass-first league and anything that enhances the passing game is a plus.
Last year, Roseman made a trade with the Miami Dolphins to acquire running back Ajay Ajayi, a deal that helped spark that historic Super Bowl run. This year, he might have done it again.