“Throw me the ball!”
Golden Tate yelled those words into the television camera after his difficult toe-tapping touchdown catch in the fourth quarter Monday nearly saved the Giants from a 25-23 loss to the Buccaneers, but now it’s fair to wonder if it was his goodbye message. Especially if it is interpreted as frustration with turnover-prone quarterback Daniel Jones.
“This guy comes to work every day with a good attitude,” coach Joe Judge said. “We have a lot of fun with him, and he’s been productive for us. I thought it was a heck of a catch down the stretch.”
Tate was clear when he entered free agency in 2019 that he wanted to chase a second Super Bowl ring in the twilight of his career. While it is unknown what other offers he had, Tate signing a four-year, $37.5 million contract with the Giants in the aftermath of trading away Odell Beckham Jr. immediately felt like a mismatch.
The Giants haven’t won a playoff game since 2011, own the NFL’s worst record (13-45) since 2017 and are 3-15 with Tate in the lineup. There are signs of a brighter future — one of the NFL’s youngest teams has five of seven losses decided in the final minute in its 1-7 record — but that doesn’t help a 32-year-old receiver playing out the stretch.
With the trade deadline set for 4 p.m. Tuesday, was this Tate’s final game with the Giants? If so, he went out throwing an 18-yard completion and catching a 19-yard touchdown that gave the Giants a chance to tie the score with 28 seconds remaining.
Earlier in the 13-play touchdown drive, an open Tate threw his hands up when a pass went in the opposite direction for an incompletion.
“I’ve got to do a good job getting everyone the ball and giving everyone a chance to make plays,” Jones said, “and he’s a great player for us, and a valuable part of our offense. We’ll continue to try to get him the ball. He stepped up and made a great play for us at the end.”
The trade market is flooded with receiver options, but Tate could be used as a half-season rental at about $4.7 million with no dead cap space in 2021 if released.
Tate was not available to the media upon request last week nor after the game, but let’s review his thought process in January 2019, after his Eagles lost in the playoffs. The Lions received a third-round pick from the Eagles at the 2018 deadline. The Giants would have to settle for less.
“I want to get back to getting deep into the playoffs and win Super Bowls,” Tate said two months before joining the Giants. “In Detroit, I had a bunch of really great stats but no playoff wins. I know what talent I have and I know what I bring to the table, but at the end of the day it’s about winning playoff games and getting to Super Bowls.”
Tate, who won a Super Bowl with the Seahawks, thought he might be able to make a run with two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning. They played two games together before Manning’s retirement, but the three-time 1,000-yard receiver is showing signs of life to contenders looking for receivers with a knack for circus catches.