NY Giants: Joe Judge benches Golden Tate, veteran WR won't make trip to Washington
Joe Judge has made the strongest statement of his head coaching tenure with the New York Giants by benching Golden Tate, leaving the veteran wide receiver home as the team travels for Sunday's game against the Washington Football Team.
This decision comes days after Judge bluntly stated that "selfish behavior" has no place on the Giants, on the same day when the coach and Tate had a lengthy conservation in part about his actions in Monday's 25-23 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Tate aired his apparent grievances with the Giants by twice telling the audience of 11.7 million watching the game against Tampa Bay that someone needed to throw him the ball, first by yelling in the direction of the sideline and later via a screaming plea into the cameras following a great touchdown catch in the waning moments.
Tate missed meetings and a walkthrough Wednesday, but when he returned Thursday, his role had been clearly diminished. He worked Thursday and Friday on the scout team, playing the role of Washington star wide receiver Terry McLaurin, not exactly common for a 11-year NFL veteran.
Tate's complaints about his perceived lack of opportunities in the Giants’ offense, more evident during the game Monday and in its aftermath, including posts by his wife Elise on her public Instagram page of more than 50,000 followers that seemed to criticize the coaches and the quarterback, Daniel Jones, among others.
On his own verified Twitter account, Tate liked a pair of tweets critical of the Giants - including one that suggested the team should release the 32-year-old - and that happened at some point when the comments were made between Monday’s game and late Wednesday afternoon.
Judge would not say whether Tate’s absence was a disciplinary action or the player's decision to leave the facility and head home Wednesday. He did not disclose any further details and what transpired would be dealt with internally.
There were two separate instances that brought Tate's displeasure to the forefront, raising questions about his effort and whether he was putting individual performance ahead of the team. And with the Giants struggling at 1-7, Judge isn't having any of it.
After making his first catch early in the fourth quarter, Tate jumped to his feet and shouted in the direction of the Giants’ sideline - "Throw me the damn ball!" - and the comment was picked up on the ESPN broadcast.
The second time, after making a leaping touchdown grab late in the game, Tate seemingly sought out the cameras and again yelled: "Throw me the ball!"
During the game, Tate could be seen on numerous occasions throwing his arms in the air, suggesting he was open when the ball did not come his way. In his weekly chalk talk segment on the team's social channels, Judge addressed one of those plays when Jones threw the ball to Evan Engram, whose diving attempt was marked just short of the goal line, while Tate cleared his defender near the back of the end zone.
Judge said Jones made the proper read on the play.
Tate's career with Giants has not gone as planned for anyone. But the team had not done wrong by him to this point, at least not publicly, even if he's not getting chances he wants.
The Giants brought Tate in as a free agent last offseason on a four-year, $37.5 million contract and sold him as the anti-Odell Beckham Jr. just days after trading Beckham to Cleveland, and the move just hasn't worked.
Tate was suspended for his first four games on his Giants' tenure last September after violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances. He has played 18 games and has 71 catches for 902 yards and eight touchdowns spanning two seasons.
There is no guaranteed money remaining on Tate's contract after this season, so it's unlikely he will be with the Giants in 2021, solely leaving behind roughly $4 million in a dead money charge against the salary cap.
If the Giants believe Tate's conduct has been detrimental to the team, this apparent suspension could lead to a legal fight over guaranteed money if they opted to part ways before the end of the 2020 season.
More to come on this developing story.
Art Stapleton is the Giants beat writer for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to all Giants analysis, news, trades and more, please subscribe today and sign up for our NFC East newsletter.