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Ranking ideal landing spots for Golden Tate in free agency

After veteran wide receiver Golden Tate mentioned some attractive free-agent landing spots he’d be open to in a recent interview, it’s worth ranking where the Pro Bowler would be best suited to land.

Here’s a look at the best destinations for Tate, taking into account his personal preferences, the chance to make a meaningful contribution, and the quality of the team and organization he’d be going to.

4. Golden Tate to the Indianapolis Colts

To be clear on where Tate said he wanted to go on that SiriusXM NFL Radio interview, his words were as follows: “I would love to go back home to Tennessee. Indy, over with Carson Wentz. […] I really like the entire NFC West, to be honest.”

OK, so we’re going to start with the Indianapolis Colts, because they’re a quality organization with an excellent coaching staff and front office led by Frank Reich and Chris Ballard respectively. They also present a great opportunity for Tate to contribute.

While rising second-year receiver Michael Pittman Jr. showed promise as a rookie, he’s going to have to be a legitimate No. 1 option. Parris Campbell has dealt with injuries for most of his two NFL seasons, and T.Y. Hilton isn’t the deep threat he once was.

There’s a definite opening for Tate to be a big player in Indianapolis as a possession target and security blanket for Wentz in the short passing game. That’d be a welcome development for the embattled signal-caller, who’s hoping his nightmarish 2020 campaign with the Philadelphia Eagles was an aberration.

Notably, Tate and Wentz were teammates in 2018, so obviously the former is buying the latter’s stock.

Indianapolis could’ve done a better job at surrounding Wentz with more weapons as he embarks on his hopeful football resurgence. Adding a reliable pass-catcher like Tate before training camp would help the cause.

3. Golden Tate to the Tennessee Titans

Golden Tate to the Tennessee Titans
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Julio Jones (2) stretches during practice at Saint Thomas Sports Park Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Nashville, Tenn. Credit: George Walker IV / The Tennessean via POOL via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Tate named the Tennessee Titans, and as a native of the state, it’s hard not to see this as an appealing situation from a pure sentimental standpoint.

However, Tate’s fit with the Titans goes beyond that heartwarming off-field storyline. He’d be joining a loaded receiving corps that features A.J. Brown and splash trade acquisition Julio Jones.

Brown and Jones are big-bodied targets ideally suited for playing on the outside. While Tate is physical at the catch point and has excellent ball skills, he’s at his best from the slot. There’s an obvious role for him in Tennessee.

Since the Titans lost their brilliant offensive coordinator in Arthur Smith to the Atlanta Falcons, along with Jonnu Smith to the New England Patriots in free agency, they’re in need of some weapons in the passing attack. Otherwise, Ryan Tannehill is in danger of a steep 2021 regression.

Another reason Tate fits the mold in Tennessee is his overall tenacity and willingness to get gritty as a run blocker. He could help pave lanes for reigning NFL rushing champion Derrick Henry.

2. Golden Tate to the New England Patriots

Golden Tate to the New England Patriots
Oct 10, 2019; Foxborough, MA, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Golden Tate (15) breaks a tackle to run from New England Patriots strong safety Duron Harmon (21) during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

You might be saying, “But the Patriots already spent money to get Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry.” That’s true. So what?

Tate’s skill set as a slot weapon feels tailor-made for New England’s system. Whether he’s catching passes from Cam Newton or Mac Jones matters little. The minute he walked into the Pats’ receivers room, Tate would be the most proven option they’d have.

Agholor and Bourne are hardly slam-dunk free-agent acquisitions, and New England’s other best options at the position are Jakobi Meyers and N’Keal Harry. That shouldn’t strike anyone as a group of phenomenal wideouts.

Now, Tate didn’t mention the Patriots as a preferred destination, but don’t you think he’d listen to Bill Belichick’s pitch if it came to pass? The Hoodie is more prone to letting veterans go early rather than later. In this specific case, though, Tate would merit a one-year flier.

1. Golden Tate to the San Francisco 49ers

Golden Tate to the San Francisco 49ers
Sep 16, 2018; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Golden Tate (15) during the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

So, Tate was really intrigued by all the teams in the NFC West. He played for the Seattle Seahawks to start his NFL career, but things didn’t end well there. Cross them off.

The Arizona Cardinals have DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green, Rondale Moore and several others vying for snaps at the wide receiver position. No room for Tate in that scenario. A similar situation is afoot in Los Angeles with the Rams, even though it’d indubitably be nice for Tate to reunite with Matthew Stafford.

That leaves the San Francisco 49ers. Playing for an absolute schematic genius in Kyle Shanahan is only part of the allure of San Francisco. Jimmy Garoppolo is a quality QB when healthy, and if he can’t stay on the field, Trey Lance has all the makings to make a huge splash if pressed into duty as a rookie.

Tate fits what Shanahan is looking for in a receiver: A strong, sturdy, sure-handed player who can win at the catch point, is elusive in the open field, gets physical in the run game and embraces contact.

Defenses would have a hard time pinpointing what the 49ers are doing off play-action with Tate, Deebo Samuel or Brandon Aiyuk going in motion all the time. San Francisco lacks a really proven No. 3 receiver, and Tate could fit right in there nicely without too much pressure on him.

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