If the Giants are interested in dealing Golden Tate before the trade deadline on Tuesday afternoon — and there are many who believe they should be — they’ve done a poor job of showcasing him in recent weeks.
The veteran receiver has been targeted on a total of just three passes in the last two games, catching two of them. That leaves Monday night’s game against the Buccaneers as the last chance for the team to pump up any value they might be able to receive in exchange for him.
It also may be Tate’s last chance to win a Super Bowl. At 32 years old, it’s unlikely the rebuilding Giants will be in a position to do that before his time in the league comes to an end.
When Tate signed a four-year deal with the Giants before the 2019 season, they were a very different team with a very different philosophy. They had just parted ways with Odell Beckham Jr., had budding superstar Saquon Barkley, and were looking to give quarterback Eli Manning one last push toward the postseason. Tate made it clear he wanted to sign with a team that gave him a chance to earn another Super Bowl ring, and the Giants seemed to be such a place.
It didn’t work out. Tate was suspended the first four games of 2019 and never had an opportunity to play with Manning in meaningful games (they did connect with each other in two late-season games when Manning started for the injured Daniel Jones). In the 17 games Tate has been in the Giants’ lineup, the Giants have won three.
He’s also become an afterthought in the offense.
"He is a guy who has made plays throughout his career and I think he feels like he can do more and make more plays," wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert said. "That’s probably more of his frustration than anything. But he’s been a really good teammate, doing whatever he’s been asked to do. I think he will continue to do that."
Maybe somewhere else.
Tate’s contract makes it a bit more difficult to trade him, but if there is a contender looking for a veteran receiver to give them an edge in the second half of the season it wouldn’t be the first time Tate made a midseason jump from a dud to a playoff team. In 2018, he was with the Lions before being traded to the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles. He even caught the game-winning touchdown in the Eagles’ playoff win over the Bears that year, a game remembered more for the double-doink field-goal miss by Chicago.
The Giants have a lot of young developing talent at wide receiver. Second-year player Darius Slayton is at the top of that list, but they also have Austin Mack, C.J. Board, Derrick Dillon, Binjimen Victor and Alex Bachman at various levels on their depth chart and practice squad. They also added veteran Corey Coleman to their practice squad last week, a move that could help their kickoff return game in the short term but also assuage anything they might lose by parting ways with Tate.
Despite his diminished exposure, Tate still can make plays. He showed that in Week 7 against the Eagles when he caught a 39-yard touchdown, snatching the ball from a defender in tight coverage.
"Golden has really good ball skills," Tolbert said. "He’s had good ball skills ever since his days back at Notre Dame, and you go through his career he’s always made that contested catch. He’s not the biggest stature, but when you throw the ball to him, a lot of times at crucial times and at crucial points in the games, he has a tendency to make plays."
If he ever wants a chance to again do that at crucial times in the season, it probably won’t come with the Giants. Depending on how the next 24 hours play out, it may never come again.