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Underpaid Golden Tate has few options

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Lions receiver Golden Tate finds himself in an awkward spot. Three years in to a five-year, $31 million deal, he admits that he’s underpaid. But after tweeting on Thursday night that he hopes to get a new contract, Tate backpedaled clumsily with an explanation that he doesn’t want a new deal for a year or two.

Tate, who said “yep” when asked if he’s underpaid, realizes he has few options. Most teams won’t extend a non-quarterback’s contract with more than a year left on the deal. And if Tate would have boycotted offseason workouts, he would have undermined his own ability to be ready for a season that, if it goes well for Tate, could prompt the Lions to give him the financial reward he covets.

The broader lesson for players who pounce on long-term deals could be to not agree to anything that lasts longer than two or three years. For most contracts, if the team’s decision to keep the player around for the fourth or fifth year means that the team believes it’s getting a good deal. If it wasn’t, the team would be squeezing the player to take less, under the threat of giving him nothing at all.

Yes, it’s unfair that a team can cut a player who is deemed to be overpaid but that a player can’t do much of anything when he believes he’s underpaid. The best way to guard against that outcome is to insist on short-term contracts, ensuring that the player will get back to the market sooner than later — and because the contract naturally expired, not because his team terminated it.

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19 Responses to “Underpaid Golden Tate has few options”
  1. omeimontis says: Jun 12, 2017 10:06 AM

    When he signed his $5 million dollar per year contract, he got an offer from his old team (the Sea Hogs) that he said was “laughable.” Further, his old teammates like Michael Bennett and Kam Chancellor got paid a lot more than he did (about $7-8 million per year) by signing contracts with the Hogs the same year, but they too felt they were underpaid a couple years later. It therefore has a lot to do with the recent rise in salary cap and rise in average salary for good players than with how much they are paid in absolute terms.

  2. Frazier28/7 says: Jun 12, 2017 10:18 AM

    Oh no! A #2 receiver thinks he should be paid like a #1.

    $6-$7 million a year isn’t enough?

    You’re not Steve Smith.

  3. ipeefreelyagain says: Jun 12, 2017 10:23 AM

    You’re only “underpaid” if someone is willing to pay you more. Until he has an offer from another team that exceeds the value of his current deal, he’s not underpaid.

  4. arcross12042004scorp15 says: Jun 12, 2017 10:25 AM

    Short term has worked very well for Revis and Cousins, Regardless, a player needs to get the max guaranteed money. Agents like to throw around the numbers of the back end loaded contracts. You’ll get $ 20 Million in each of the last 2 years ! You have a $ 60 Million contract. This helps to attract other clients but it doesn’t help the player. The contract will either be renegotiated or terminated with the player never seeing a dime . Straight GUARANTEED cash homie !

  5. 700levelvet says: Jun 12, 2017 10:26 AM

    How about they pay you a million dollars per TD..sweet deal…. Last year you would have made 4… Sound good?…

  6. 12brichandfamous says: Jun 12, 2017 10:29 AM

    Yes, it’s unfair that a team can cut a player who is deemed to be overpaid but that a player can’t do much of anything when he believes he’s underpaid
    ###############

    The ability to cut is already factored into the price of the contract. If ontracts were fully guaranteed, they would be written for less value.

  7. Before you hate, just make sure you refer to him as '2015 PRO BOWL MVP' Matthew Stafford says: Jun 12, 2017 10:38 AM

    Kenny Golladay will be Stafford’s new favorite target pretty soon. I think the Lions might have drafted their #1 WR in the 3rd round this year. He has looked incredible

  8. osiris33 (bandwagon since 1976) says: Jun 12, 2017 10:42 AM

    You got a good deal for a guy who runs undisciplined routes but makes the occasional big play. Be smart, don’t sleep with Stafford’s wife and you’ll collect the money you have left on the last two years before you drop into the $3 million a year category

  9. excusemewhileiwhipthisoutagain says: Jun 12, 2017 10:44 AM

    Someone forgot to mention how unfair it is that an underperforming player doesn’t have to give money back.

  10. ragnarthegreat says: Jun 12, 2017 10:46 AM

    If all contracts were guaranteed this would go away. Contracts would shorten all by themselves because teams would not want to find themselves paying injured or aging players. The amount of the contract would drop because the team would actually owe it all so they wouldn’t want to contractually agree to ridiculous numbers they never actually plan to pay. Over inflated contracts that we never actually see completed would stop. And loyalty to veterans would go up. You know what you have and a signing is always a risk. And if you have a veteran who wants out, with a short term contract, the team isn’t on the hook for a long time or a lot. They can exit before long on good terms.

  11. packfanaj12 says: Jun 12, 2017 11:01 AM

    I do not feel any pity for players on contracts, the teams own the contract not the other way around. Don’t sign something unless it’s worth it… it’s simple. The Lions thought they would get the better end of the deal signing a 5 year contract, they were most likely right. It’s why one-two year prove it deals make a lot of sense for players. Multi year deals have more guarantees but then the player is tied down.

  12. jimnaizeeum says: Jun 12, 2017 11:02 AM

    If you take a long term deal you sacrifice the possible bump in pay for longer term stability and bigger signing bonus
    The other option is to just bet on themselves by signing one year deals…of course you would also be betting that you are not injured or your production drops.

  13. RegisHawk says: Jun 12, 2017 11:31 AM

    Whatever would we do if we didn’t have a pompous wannabe agent telling us who is and isn’t underpaid.

  14. willycents says: Jun 12, 2017 11:40 AM

    Allow every player to shop for a new deal every year. Give them a week, say, in March. Allow every team to list all players by draft pick required for another team to sign them. There are 53 players per team, let them list 7 for each round of the draft and the remaining as “free” picks. If the player decides to move to another team, let him “buy” his old contract for the remaining value of his contract.

    In this example, Tate is worth a #1, and it would cost him $12MM and would cost his new team their #1 the next year to buy out his remaining contract. That would let the players put their money where their mouth is.

  15. wimpyburgers says: Jun 12, 2017 1:49 PM

    Time for us to play the world’s smallest violin for this ego-maniac. He’s simply not – and has never been – an A-list receiver.

  16. mysterytonite says: Jun 12, 2017 2:00 PM

    Honestly, I don’t understand why more players don’t follow the Revis method and sign a series of shorter contracts. If you aren’t a qb but are among the top at your position, why not try to do a series of 1 or 2 year deals that would pay you out top of the market for your position? If I can recall back in the early 00’s, Seattle would franchise tag Walter Jones every year and he would be happy with that. He was sacrificing the longer term security with the bigger signing bonus but at the same time he was keeping control of his market value in ensuring he was being paid amongst the top at his position every season.

  17. sportnorcal says: Jun 12, 2017 3:52 PM

    One of the league’s perpetual malcontents.
    Nobody forced him to sign the contract.

  18. jimbobcooterqbtutor says: Jun 12, 2017 5:07 PM

    When the Lions signed him away from the Hawks, he got a very good deal considering, his past performance. He’s lived up to that deal, maybe outperformed it a little, but now that the salary cap has gone way up and he’s just being paid an average amount for his talents, things have evened out and he should just be happy he’s gonna earn the full contract.

  19. turkish124 says: Jun 16, 2017 5:01 PM

    Frazier28/7 says:
    Jun 12, 2017 10:18 AM
    Oh no! A #2 receiver thinks he should be paid like a #1.
    $6-$7 million a year isn’t enough?
    You’re not Steve Smith.
    —————————————————-

    Just saying, he catches a lot more balls than Steve Smith.

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