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The Lions reportedly offered Golden Tate a contract extension before trading him

The Lions apparently had at least cursory interest in bringing Golden Tate back.

Detroit Lions v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images

While many remain puzzled as to why the Detroit Lions traded away such a valuable asset in Golden Tate while just a one game out of the NFC North lead, it’s becoming clear why the Lions front office made the move.

The prevailing theory was that the Lions had no interest in extending Tate’s expiring contract, so may as well get a third-round pick for the shifty wide receiver while you can. A compensatory pick is far from guaranteed, so the Lions locked up a second-day pick by trading him away at the deadline.

A recent report for Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer suggests that’s not quite true. In Breer’s “Sunday Rundown,” he dropped this little nugget toward the end of his column.

“Remember, it’s not like the Lions were dying to see Tate go—they’d offered him a new contract and drove a hard bargain with suitors on the trade market.”

We already knew the Lions were driving a hard bargain after NFL Network reports said the Lions were looking to be “blown away” by offers before they’d consider trading Tate, but the news that Detroit offered him a contract extension changes everything.

Of course, Breer doesn’t provide details as to when the Lions offered him a contract or if the terms of the deal were realistic, but news suggests two things:

  1. The Lions were interested in keeping Tate
  2. The team wasn’t confident in contract negotiations ending with a deal

Prior to the trade, Tate did tell the Detroit Free Press that he felt the two sides had made progress on a new deal, but it’s pretty clear now that the Lions were never going to concede to Tate’s desired contract terms.

The Tate trade will continue to be debated among fans, especially if the team falters down the final two months of the season. But we won’t know the full context of the trade until we see the kind of deal that Tate gets in 2019 after his contract expires.

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After winning their first NFC North title in 30 years, the Lions have unfinished business this offseason. Stay updated with Jeremy Reisman through Pride of Detroit Direct, our newsletter offering up exclusive analysis. Sign up with NFCNORTH30 to get 30% off after your free trial.