Tate has been good for one circus-catch and one slightly above average kick return about every other week… unfortunately this comes with a handful of drops and several bad decisions fielding punts over the same time period. Tate has been mediocre at best as a special teams leader, and is only maintains his positions on the receivers’ depth chart because of his relative seniority brings him to the top in practice drills. However, Tate’s game-time body of work has become enough to understand what he is, and is not, capable of on the field. Grade: D+
The chances that the Bengals will keep seven receivers on the roster next year is highly unlikely; five or six is far more realistic, with one more possibly squirreled away on the practice squad. As they head into free agency, it’s also not probably that the Bengals will feel the need to pay Tate for any addition seasons of service. Also, Whalen was keep on the roster this season to provide strategic depth at an unsure position, and as he as not immerged to any great degree above his station, he may not be able return to the active roster. Currently, Green, Hawkins, Sanu, Jones and Binns appear to be the core of this young group of receivers that will certainly be returning next season.
However, if the Bengals feel there is room for growth and development, then considerations to spend a late round draft pick on a wide receiver wouldn’t be out of the question. The Bengals should look hard at the projected sixth round wide out, Quinton Patton, out of Louisiana Tech. Patton is coming off back to back +1,000 yard seasons, but isn’t rising up draft boards because of his relatively small Alma-Ata and the fact that this is only his second year at Louisiana Tech after transferring from Coffeyville Community College. Sure it will be a big leap, but Patton could be one of the sleeper steals in the final rounds of the draft this year.