Golden Tate isn’t beloved by the Detroit Lions fanbase like Calvin Johnson is. And that’s not a knock on Tate. It’s just a fact. Despite that, with many questions surrounding the Lions’ wide receiving corps, Detroiters are clamoring for the return of “The YAC King.” 

It’s hard to blame them.

Since training camp started for the Lions, they’ve received praise from the fans and media on several facets of the team. D’Andre Swift, Jamaal Williams, and Jermar Jefferson have shown flashes of a promising running back committee. Even Craig Reynolds, if he makes the team. 

The Lions’ secondary has received praise also. Primarily, that stems from the work of defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn and secondary coach Aubrey Pleasant. Not to forget, Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell has consistently praised the growth of rookie Penei Sewell weekly. 

However, in particular, no player has proven to be “that guy” when it comes to the wide receivers.

Insert Golden Tate. 

Tate, 33, is currently a free agent looking for a home. And several times this offseason, he’s dropped a few hints that lead fans to believe he’s interested in returning to Detroit. With the Lions, he had 416 receptions for 4,741 yards and 22 touchdowns over five seasons.  

Tate’s stats took a dip after the Lions traded him midseason in 2018 to the Philadelphia Eagles. Over his last eight games that year, he caught 30 passes for 278 yards and one touchdown. 

And in the previous two seasons, Tate played for the New York Giants. In 2019, he caught 49 passes for 676 yards and six touchdowns. Last season, he had 35 receptions for 388 yards and two touchdowns. 

Giants wide receiver Golden Tate thanks the Lions fans after the Lions’ 31-26 win on Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019, at Ford Field.

Those numbers are not anything to write home about. In his defense, though, he was catching passes from Daniel Jones. 

So there’s that.

Despite having his last few seasons being forgettable, Tate is the wide receiver the Lions need right now. Will he be the Golden Tate of old? Probably not. Tate’s best years as a pro were in his 20s, and father time is undefeated. However, on Monday, Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell talked about having players that you can trust. He spoke of reliability. 

Golden Tate defines that. 

If the Lions were to sign him, he can walk into that locker room and instantly become a leader. He can be the mentor this receiving corps needs, as he is a former Super Bowl Champion. He not only adds instant credibility, but he gives the Lions another tool for Jared Goff. The Lions need Goff’s time in Detroit to be a success. Because if it is, the Lions do not need to rush to draft a successor. Setting up Goff for the best chance to succeed would be pairing him with a receiver like Tate.

Former Detroit Lions wideout Golden Tate
Sep 30, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; Detroit Lions receiver Golden Tate (15) spikes the ball while celebrating a fourth quarter touchdown with quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

And if there’s any disagreement, let’s look at the Lions’ wideouts right now.

In training camp, Kalif Raymond and rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown have showcased flashes of talent. In short-yardage situations, both receivers appear to have a rapport established with Jared Goff. Part of that was on display during the Lions’ 16-15 loss to the Bills in the preseason opener. St. Brown was the beneficiary of a few passes during an 18-play drive orchestrated by Goff. 

St. Brown also caught a few passes in the 26-20 loss to the Steelers last Friday. And he could’ve had more if Tim Boyle played better, but that’s another story for another day. Let’s stick to the script.

Outside of that, nothing is fascinating or any signs of true promise from the Lions’ wideout. There’s a huge question mark on what Quintez Cephus or Tyrell Williams will bring to the table. 

Then there’s Breshad Perriman

Perriman came to Detroit with a buzz surrounding his name. Mostly because his father, Brett, is still a fan favorite from his playing days with the Lions. So far, Perriman has nursed injuries throughout training camp. 

And because of Perriman’s play (or lack thereof), Dan Campbell is still unsure of his chances of making the 53-man roster.

“It’s hard to say right now. There just hasn’t been enough out there, said Campbell.” “He had the hip injury, and then he comes back. He was solid the other night for the plays that he had, but yet he had an OPI, which he knows better than. He didn’t need to do that. His speed and the route is enough to where he would win on that. I think he’ll be better coming off of this hip. He kind of got a game under him, but I think that room right now is still up for grabs.”

“I think there is a heavy competition going on in that room right now.”

If Campbell’s words are true, bringing a savvy veteran like Golden Tate to the team would take “that room” to another level. And by the looks of things, it’s needed. 

Follow Kory Woods on Twitter at KoryEWoods.

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