Tate, who is now in his third year in the pros, was one of the Bengals’ top offensive weapons a year ago, hauling in 40 passes for 575 yards and one score in 12 games.
It looked like Tate could be even better this year, as he reportedly had a great showing in training camp. He was even declared the training camp offensive MVP at one point, but it hasn’t translated into regular-season success.
In Week 1, Tate saw just 15 offensive snaps and four special teams snaps while not receiving a target vs. the Chargers. Then he didn’t play Thursday, despite the Bengals playing from behind much of the game, forcing Joe Burrow to attempt 61 passes.
Tate probably isn’t happy, and it’s now clear his agent certainly isn’t.
In an interview with CBS Sports, Tate’s agent, Deiric Jackson, suggested he could seek a trade for Tate if things don’t change.
“He was healthy and ready to go,” Jackson said. “If they don’t know how to use him, I’m sure there are plenty of other teams that would love to have a weapon like that offensively.
“I don’t care if it’s a first-rounder, whatever, you play your best guys. I know the type of chemistry that him and Joe Burrow (have) been having. He’s played special teams. If you’re not going to use him, why not let him go seek opportunities elsewhere?”
Through two games, the only consistently targeted receivers have been A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd and Mike Thomas. John Ross has struggled to make an impact, and Alex Erickson has yet to be targeted. Second-round pick Tee Higgins was targeted six times Thursday and caught three passes for 35 yards.
Erickson is probably safe due to his impact as a returner on special teams. Higgins needs to keep playing to help his development. Based on the first two games, Ross is probably who Tate has the best case for playing over, but the Bengals aren’t going to punt on the 2017 ninth-overall pick in just his fourth season.
It’s a tough situation for Tate, but he definitely deserves to be playing. The good news for him is Green, Ross, Thomas and Erickson are all free agents next year. So even if Tate doesn’t make an impact this year, he could quickly ascend into a bigger role in 2021 if some of those impending free agents sign elsewhere.