The New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers are reportedly both in hot pursuit of free agent Golden Tate, who is one of the top receivers remaining on the open market.
As CBS Boston noted, the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots are looking to build off the re-signing of Phillip Dorsett by taking aim at the Pro Bowl wide receiver. The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport noted that the Patriots and could have some competition from their AFC rival.
“One of the top receivers available … certainly has a lot of interest,” Rapoport said Thursday. “I know a couple teams that were at the least interested in potentially trading for him last year have some interest in him this year. Patriots would be one, the Steelers would be another. At this point, still waiting to find his landing spot. We’ve kind of gone to the second wave of free agent now.”
Both the Patriots and Steelers could be in need of the production Tate has shown to bring. Tate is coming off a season in which he caught 74 passes for 795 yards and four touchdowns, which could help the Steelers at least begin after the loss of Antonio Brown. JuJu Smith-Schuster is set to become the No. 1 receiver in Pittsburgh, but Tate could be an important addition for a team looking to get back into playoff contention in however many years Ben Roethlisberger might have left.
The New England Patriots go into 2019 with only Julian Edelman, Braxton Berrios, and now Dorsett under contract for the coming season. As CBS Boston noted, the Patriots actually plan on keeping Josh Gordon on the roster, but he faces an uncertain future as a potentially very long suspension could loom from the NFL for his latest indiscretion. The Patriots are also waiting on Rob Gronkowski to make a decision about what he intends to do next season, with reports indicating that he is leaning toward retirement. That leaves a thin receiving corps where Tate would become the No. 2 immediately.
Rob Gronkowski’s agent mentions “opportunities” away from football as part of a “tough decision” https://t.co/heHjMRkZqW— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) March 14, 2019
While the Steelers and Patriots have emerged atop the rumor pile, there could be other teams interested in Golden Tate. Fanduel writer Matt Staley noted that the Baltimore Ravens could also be a good fit as the team looks for a sure-handed receiver to help quarterback Lamar Jackson. Staley also pointed to the Indianapolis Colts, who could do damage playing out of the slot alongside T.Y. Hilton and new free agent pickup Devin Funchess.