The Philadelphia Eagles should re-sign Jordan Matthews over Golden Tate

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Regardless of their recent trade, the Philadelphia Eagles should prioritize retaining Jordan Matthews over Golden Tate in free agency.

The Philadelphia Eagles are officially 0-2 in the Golden Tate-era.

After adding what some considered to be the marquee player moved on the entire trade deadline in Golden Tate to jumpstart the team’s otherwise fledgling offense, it seemed like the Eagles may have once again found that missing piece to put their roster over the top in route to another deep playoff run.

However, over the last two weeks, the Eagles have only averaged 13.5 points per game, almost 10 points less than their typical average of 23 points per game.

More from Philadelphia Eagles

But wait, that’s not all.

Not only has the Eagles offensive consistency has dropped noticeably post-bye week, but even their return game has suffered since Tate came to town. After watching preseason success story DeAndre Carter return 10 punts for 103 yards as the team’s regular punt returner after his elevation from the practice squad following Week 3, Tate has only three punts for 10 yards over his albeit short tenure as an Eagle.

Tate’s lone punt return of the game against the Saints? A single return for -2 yards.

Now granted, the Eagles’ offensive struggles can’t solely be attributed to Tate’s addition, as almost every player has been underperforming since their bye week, but it’s hard to watch a player the team just traded away a third-round pick to acquire performing at the same level as Jordan Matthews, who wasn’t even on a roster for much of the summer.

And frankly, if this trend continues, it may be wise for Howie Roseman and the front office to prioritize bringing back Matthews and letting Tate walk in free agency.

For all of the disapproval, fans have unfairly placed on Matthews’ shoulders over the years; he’s actually played surprisingly well since returning to the team earlier this season. Though he’s yet to have that big performance that makes people say ‘wow’, save maybe for his 93-yard outpouring against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Matthews is steadily averaging roughly 40 yards on three targets per game.

Is he an actual number one receiver? No.

Can you take the top off a defense and fill that always needed deep threat roll? No, not consistently.

But what Jordan Matthews can do, and can do very well consistently I might add is catch the football. Jordan is very good at catching the football.

So far this season Carson Wentz is throwing the ball to Matthews roughly three times a day, and so far, he’s caught an average of 2.3 of those balls each game for a catch percentage of 76. Just for reference, Tate has had 12 balls thrown his way so far this season, but he’s only caught seven of them for 67 yards and a catch percentage of 58.

Could that number potentially rise with a larger sample size? Of course, Tate is the NFL’s best YAC receiver after all, but is that really the kind of value a team should expect from a third round pick? Saints receiver Tre’Quan Smith was selected in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, and he gouged Jim Schwartz‘s defense for 157 yards on 10 catches with a catch percentage of 77.

No matter how you slice it, it doesn’t seem like Tate is going to provide that kind of value down the stretch at the tender age of 30, and since he’s in the final year of a five-year, $31 million deal, if he does show any sliver of life in midnight green, the Eagles will likely have to commit a noticeable portion of their salary cap to retaining his services for the foreseeable future.

However, should the team just let him walk, they could essentially recoup their initial investment off another team’s dime. Since Tate is currently slated to make $7 million this season, almost 10 times more than Matthews’ $790,000, and will likely fetch a similar contract on the open market, the Eagles could potentially receive a 2020 compensatory third-round pick if Tate signs elsewhere in 2019, effectively just deferring their selection one calendar year.

In full transparency, the team would also get a pick if they kept Tate and let Mattews walk, but because he makes such little money now, and would be lucky to earn a contract that pays him even $5 million a season, that pick might only be a sixth or even a seventh rounder.

Next. NFL Power Rankings, Week 12: Eagles fall to Saints in embarrassing fashion. dark

Since both players get you roughly the same production a game thus far, granted, in very different ways, it may be smarter for the Philadelphia Eagles to simply move on from Golden Tate, save for some magical turn around, lock in Jordan Matthews to a three-year, $11 million deal, and turn their eyes to the 2019 NFL Draft, hoping they can finally find a suitable, home-grown replacement for DeSean Jackson on the outside.