Yes, the Detroit Lions trading Golden Tate made sense. Here's why
There is a plan. Maybe it doesn’t look like it. Maybe it doesn’t include winning a Super Bowl this year, or even making the playoffs.
For now? Trading Tate away is a gut punch, especially if you play for the Lions, several of whom took to Twitter on Tuesday afternoon to express, well, maybe they should speak for themselves:
“Wtf!” wrote safety, Quandre Diggs, who apparently was so upset he didn’t bother with a question mark, using an exclamation point instead.
“Bruh,” wrote punt returner, Jamal Agnew.
As in: WTF?
Even Darius Slay’s wife took to social media, tweeting out an emoji of a shoulder shrug and a woman’s hands covering her face.
Yeah, it’s painful for some of the players in the locker room. Maybe a lot of the players in the locker room. Tate is a very good player, and the team’s most productive receiver.
He’s also 30, playing on a contract that expires at season’s end and good enough to demand the kind of money Bob Quinn, the Lions’ general manager, obviously didn’t want to spend this offseason.
At least not at that position. Turns out he wanted a draft pick instead. He got one — a third-rounder — when he shipped Tate to Philadelphia.
Will that help the Lions win this year?
Of course not.
But then Tate was on the roster Sunday, and on the field at Ford Field against the Seattle Seahawks, and the Lions got bludgeoned anyway. If they win that game, maybe Tate is on the roster all of Tuesday, too, and all of the rest of the season.
Though I doubt it.
Remember, Tate had his best game of the year in Dallas … and the Lions lost that game. Without him, maybe that game wouldn’t have been close. But it was still a loss.
The truth is the Lions showed too many holes the first six games for Quinn to think this team was going to make a significant playoff run. Also, he comes from a place — New England — that's as ruthless as any in professional sports.
In other words, he’ll absorb short-term frustration in the locker room if he thinks he can make the team better. Part of improving a team means managing the salary cap and prioritizing where he spends his money.
Sending Tate to Philadelphia frees up $3.7 million. Yet this isn’t solely about money. It’s about taking as many swings in the draft as possible.
In that sense — and only in that sense — does this trade make sense. It also tells you how confident Quinn is in his ability to identify talent.
Which means if his internal ledger told him to get something for Tate rather than potentially nothing, he was going to do it. Unless the Lions had entered Sunday’s game at 4-2 or 5-1 instead of 3-3.
Quinn isn't the type of general manager who steps to a microphone to explain every move he makes. All we got from him Tuesday was a few-paragraph statement that said almost nothing.
"I would like to sincerely thank Golden for his countless contributions to our team during his time as a Detroit Lion," he wrote.
I'm sure he means it. I'm also sure he noticed what you noticed during last Sunday's game against Seattle, when the Seahawks manhandled his team at the line of scrimmage.
I suspect it was the last piece of evidence he needed that this season wasn't going to end with a Lombardi Trophy, not that he was counting on that to begin with.
The game is still won, and lost, at the point of attack. And the Lions simply aren’t good enough on the offensive and defensive lines. Even with the recent addition of Harrison.
The defensive tackle played well against Seattle. Yet as good as he is at his specific job — to clog running lanes — he isn’t the kind of disruptive force that consistently makes a quarterback uncomfortable.
He needs help. Quinn aims to get him some.
This requires the long view. Sometimes that means moving on from a popular and productive player. That’s how it’s done in New England, where Super Bowl success is the standard.
Now, are the Lions the Patriots? Hardly.
But ownership is banking on the lessons of the Patriot way, at least in part. That’s why Quinn — and head coach, Matt Patricia — are here.
Flipping Tate for a draft pick is a reminder that they are building the only way they know how.
We’ll see if it eventually works.
Contact Shawn Windsor: 313-222-6487 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @shawnwindsor.