Patricia: Lions Weighed Logic Over Emotion In Trading Tate

For the Lions, the value was too good to pass up.

Will Burchfield
October 31, 2018 - 12:28 pm

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It was a tough day, said Matt Patricia, and a difficult decision. But ultimately the Lions felt it was in their best long-term interests to trade top receiver Golden Tate to the Eagles on Tuesday in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2019 draft. 

"We try to evaluate everything the best we can and try to make the best decision we can as we move forward, not only for our immediate but also our long term," Matt Patricia said on Wednesday. "And those decisions are not easy. It’s more than just players. It’s relationships, it’s friendships, it’s working together for a long time. I talked to Golden at length yesterday, I talked to him last night. I really wanted to make sure he was alright moving forward. I know he’s going to a good place with some people that are going to take care of him. He and his family are most important to me and that relationship will go a lot longer than football and last a lot longer than football." 

Tate, 30, is in the final year of his contract, and the Lions weren't prepared to pay him the kind of money he'll command in free agency. Patricia said he and general manager Bob Quinn weighed the fact the team is just one game behind in the NFC North, but chose to act with their minds rather than their hearts. At 3-4, the Lions' odds of making the playoffs are slim, and keeping Tate could have been a costly decision in the end. 

"You have to work together with all those situations. There certainly is good conversation that goes on. It’s good to have that balance, it really is, because you can get caught up either way to one side and you may make decisions that are more emotional than logical. I think at some point you’re trying to make the best logical decision that you can," Patricia said. 

In short, the Lions chose the future over the present. 

"Football is great, there’s a lot of emotion in it. There’s a lot of emotion on game day, there’s a lot of emotion during the week when we work and the relationships are emotional. That’s what makes it so special. When you have those great teams that are out there telling each other that they love you and all that, that's for real. So there’s a huge emotional part of this that when you’re running a business and you have parts of it that are decisions that need to be made for the greater good," Patricia said. 

Had the Lions kept Tate for the rest of this season and he walked in free agency, they would have been awarded a compensatory pick in the 2020 draft. But it almost surely wouldn't have been as high as a third-rounder. The fact they were able to get that kind of return from the Eagles right now meant it was an offer they couldn't refuse. 

"What’s important for us when we evaluate everything that we do as a franchise, I think there’s certain value that we can get at times during the season that will help us long term," Patricia said. "It’s very difficult when you're in that one-game-at-a-time mindset, that’s really where we are from the standpoint of it's week-to-week for us, but there’s also a big picture here that's good for those to keep an eye on as we move forward." 

Several players voiced their frustration with the trade on Tuesday, most notably veteran Quandre Diggs, who tweeted, "Wtf!" Just a week after acquiring Damon Harrison in what was a win-now move, the Lions shipped out one of their best offensive players. Patricia said he spoke to the team to explain the organization's thinking. 

"We’re very open and honest about the conversation," he said. "I think the biggest point for me to make sure everybody understands is, this also shows a lot of confidence in the people that are in that room. There’s great players in that room and there’s a lot of them, and there's a lot of guys that have opportunities to make plays and go out there and play at a high level. We’re all good with that from that standpoint.

"The biggest thing for us, to be honest with you, was we gotta turn the page, we gotta get ready to go. If we spend all Wednesday talking about this, I'm just telling you, Minnesota is getting ready to kick the ball off at 1:00 on Sunday whether we’re there or not, and we better show up ready to go."