Posted: 9:01 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014
By Brad Wells
Stampede Blue's free agency series discusses potential players the Indianapolis Colts should target when the new league year begins March 11th.
Each year that he has been in the NFL since getting drafted by the Seattle Seahawks with the 60th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Golden Tate has gotten better. His receptions have jumped from 21 to 35 to 45 to 64 each season. His catch percentage was 68% in 2014, which is ranked No. 11 of all receivers with at least 700 snaps, per PFF. In 2013, that percentage was 69% with only two drops. In 2011, he didn't drop a single pass thrown at him.
In 2012, he had an impressive 16 tackles broken or avoided. In 2013, Tate led the NFL with 21 tackles broken or avoided with 21.
In many ways, Tate is a classic example of a guy who has gradually progressed into a player who could break out. He is already the best wide receiver on the Super Bowl champion Seahawks, and now that he is hitting free agency he seems poised to make a splash.
As Pro Football Talk noted on Tuesday, free agency looks like a buyer's market for wide receivers. For the Colts, that's excellent news. Perhaps a guy like Tate, who would fit in beautifully with Pep Hamilton offense either as an outside receiver. He's not ideally suited to play in the slot, but that might not be a bad thing right now. If longtime veteran Reggie Wayne wants to extend his playing career two more years, he'll likely be spending more time as a slot receiver. This would allow T.Y. Hilton and another player, such as Tate, favorable match-ups on the outside.
If needed, Tate could slide over to slot and would play effectively. He initially struggled as a slot guy in Seattle, but grew better in the role when called on. There is no doubting his playing ability or his potential for further growth.
Tate's also incredibly diverse, possessing the ability to throw the ball on option plays as well as return punts. He returned 51 in 2013, popping one for a 71-yard gain.
For a small player, Tate seems to have an uncanny ability to make people miss. Pair that up with T.Y. Hilton, and heaven help any secondary that has to face the Colts. Even the Seahwaks' secondary.
In Week 5 last season against the Colts, Tate had 5 catches for 61 yards and a touchdown. He's gone on record recently and said he wants to stay in Seattle, but I personally don't buy it when players publicly say they'll take discounts to stay in one city. Tate will go where the money and opportunity are best. If Indianapolis is willing to pony up the money, they'd be an attractive team for Tate.
Tate played his college ball at Notre Dame, which means that, if the Colts sign him, Matt Grecco will buy car bombs for everyone.