Detroit Lions analysis: Does receiver Golden Tate get his contract extension?

Detroit Lions receiver Golden Tate is in the last year of his contract. Is there an extension on the horizon or do the Lions let him go?

Golden Tate is a force. I mentioned in a previous article that, he has, “…eclipsed 1,000 yards three of his four years with the Lions. He has actually averaged 1,056 yards per season since arriving in Detroit. The potential is high that Tate can sustain his level of production…”

What kind of value does “Showtime” Tate bring to the Lions? Well, for one thing, Pro Football Focus pointed out that he is the leader in Yards After Catch (YAC) in the NFL since 2013.

Erik Schlitt of Lionswire expounds on Tates accomplishments in a June article that digs deeper into those PFF stats.

It’s obvious that Tate’s accomplishments on the football field are among the very best in the NFL. His rare talent will command a premium in the free agent market.

What could we expect that market to look like?

In 2014, Overthecap.com listed Golden Tate’s contract as the 39th highest cap value in the NFL.  How much did the Detroit Lions spend on his contract? A total of $31,000,000 which averages $6,200,000 per year. $10.5M of that total was fully guaranteed.

Mike Evans just signed a five-year $82.5M extension that nets a cool $16.5M average and includes $38,258,000 in fully guaranteed monies.

One consideration is that Evans is 24 years old while Tate is already 30.

DeSean Jackson (31 years old) signed a three-year $33.5M contract ($11.17M avg.) with the Tampa Bay Buccanneers last year that included $20M in guarantees. Davante Adams of the Green Bay Packers signed a four-year $58M ($14.5 avg.) late last year that included an $18M signing bonus, which is his only guaranteed money. Jackson is 31 years old, Adams is 25.

So where does Tate fit into this market? At 30 years of age, he will not command a contract like Evans. Maybe. Now, I am not an NFL general manager but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express once so follow me here.

I think a five-year $80M contract is doable for Tate. Include a $25M signing bonus and an additional $15M in guarantees. The signing bonus would spread $5M in value against the salary cap, per year, over the life of the contract. Split the rest of the guaranteed money over the first two or three years. Annual salary, roster bonuses, and other incentives would be included to fill out the balance of the $80M. The contract could then be structured so that it is not an overwhelming percentage of the Lions available annual cap space.

But even if they CAN extend Tate, SHOULD they? The Lions look like the “New England Patriots West”. The Pats are well-known for cutting good players free while still in their prime and continuing to win. A common thought is that Tate is on the wrong side of 29 years old and is therefore no longer a candidate for a long-term deal. I disagree.

Golden Tate is worth the money. He has value, both on the field and off.

Tate’s value on the field is without question and makes a deal like this almost worth it.

It’s Tate’s value off the field that pushes his equity over the top.

First, he is immensely popular with the Lions fan base. He is interactive, intelligent, and generous. Above all of that, he is just plain fun. And, in an industry that is exclusively dependant upon entertainment, fun is a very good thing.

Second, Tate is the type of professional that Bob Quin and Matt Patricia need. While other football players hold out because they have not been granted a contract extension, Tate, in an NBCSports Profootballtalk article is quoted as saying, “I signed a five-year contract and I’m going to honor it,” Tate said. “I love the game a lot. I want to be out here around the guys.”

Golden Tate has integrity. Do not underestimate the value of that golden trait. In this day and age, where every time you turn on the radio, some entitled celebrity or athlete is acting as if the world revolves around them. It is very refreshing to see a talented, charismatic, and gifted football player behave honorably and with respect.

“I signed a five-year contract and I’m going to honor it,” -Golden Tate

That type of commitment and professionalism adds trust and stability to the team. Cooperation instead of confrontation breeds an environment where success is the focus rather than problem-solving.

If Quinn chooses to extend Tate, that just makes the next player that much more likely to trust the Lions administration when it comes to renewing their contract.

Third, Quinn has a history of extending good players, typically prior to the regular season beginning.

Finally, Tate has a cap value of $9,351,250 this year. A contract extension can possibly free up cap space this year if need be. Again, according to Overthecap.com, the team currently has $9,202,191 in available cap space.

Hold-outs, grumbling, and media venting are blissfully absent from the Detroit Lions camp. I think that Quinn and Patricia like it that way. I also believe that extending Tate, probably before the regular season begins this year is a good way to continue to promote that healthy, positive environment.

Follow Lion Lowdown on Twitter @LionLowdown or Bruce Walker @Smoke25

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