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2019 NFL free agency: Pro Football Focus says the Patriots must sign Golden Tate

New England does need wide receiver help after all.

New York Giants v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

In case you haven’t heard yet: the New England Patriots need to work on their wide receiver position this offseason. One way to do that is of course by bringing some talent in via free agency, and among the most intriguing names expected to be available this year is former Seahawk, Lion and Eagle Golden Tate — a player that stated last month that he “would love” to play alongside Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

The veteran, who was traded from the Detroit Lions to the Philadelphia Eagles midway through the 2018 season, is one of the top wide receivers to hit the open market this year. As such, he will likely a) command considerable dollar despite turning 31 in August, and b) be linked to the Patriots throughout the entire free agency process. One outlet that already appears to be on that train is Pro Football Focus.

In a piece for E$PN Insider, the advanced analytics website called Tate “the one free agent [the Patriots] must sign in 2019.” The reasoning behind this statement was outlined as follows:

Chris Hogan should be gone and Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski are aging in New England — if the latter even decides to play next season. Although Tate isn’t getting any younger himself, he proved in 2018 that he could still make defenders miss, no matter whom he was playing for. His 23 total missed tackles forced after the catch were the most among all receivers last season, as he forced 13 in seven games with the Lions and another 10 in eight games with the Eagles. Tate with the ball in space is a dangerous thing, and he’d add a reliable target for New England’s evolving underneath passing attack.

There is no denying that Tate can still be an effective wide receiver weapon in the NFL, especially when paired with a quarterback like Tom Brady and a coaching staff like New England’s. The club therefore at least trying to acquire the former second-round draft pick later this month would therefore not be surprising given his combination of skill set, experience, and proven production.

As always in free agency, however, the price will ultimately be a major deciding factor — even if Tate indeed wants to win another Super Bowl. After all, the Patriots and their $24.3 million in salary cap space can only be financially flexible to a certain point.

The PFF story does not only mention New England as an organization, but also three members of the team’s free agency class. Offensive tackle Trent Brown is seen as the Buffalo Bills’ must-signing, while the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons should go after Trey Flowers and Jason McCourty, respectively.