Ex-Arizona Wildcats quarterback Khalil Tate remains a CFL free agent, and with the 2023 season nearing, only time will tell if he gets the opportunity to shine.
Tate, who played college football at Arizona from 2016 to 2019, briefly turned professional when the Philadelphia Eagles of the NFL signed him in 2020. Though he played quarterback for Arizona, the Eagles wanted to try him out as a receiver.
But Philly already had an established quarterback depth chart headlined by then-starter Carson Wentz and current superstar Jalen Hurts, a 2020 second-round pick. Tate was released before the start of the regular season, brought back the following January but once again cut by Philly five months later.
Both the Edmonton Elks and Toronto Argonauts signed Tate in 2022, but he never wound up playing a game for either team. The 2023 CFL season is just around the corner
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Which CFL Teams Should Consider Tate?
Tate has yet to play a meaningful NFL or CFL snap, but quite frankly, teams up north don’t know what he can offer until/unless they give him the chance.
Tate stood out as a dual-threat quarterback during his tenure at Arizona. In four seasons there, Tate completed 58 percent of his pass attempts for 6,318 yards and 57 touchdowns against 31 interceptions.
He also had 2,285 rushing yards and 18 rushing scores in his collegiate career, including an impressive 1,411 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground in 2017. So in some ways, it’s surprising that NFL and CFL teams haven’t given him enough of a chance to do something in their offense.
Tate doesn’t have to be a starting quarterback in the CFL, but it’d be intriguing to see him utilized in a Taysom Hill-like role for the NFL’s New Orleans Saints. Hill is a utility weapon who can do damage in short yardage situations as a quarterback/running back, as a passer and as a receiver.
The BC Lions stand out as a team who could use Tate’s services. They lost 2022 breakout star and quarterback Nathan Rourke, who joined the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars back in January.
With Rourke gone, the Lions will let Dane Evans and ex-Montreal Alouettes star Vernon Adams — acquired via trade in 2022 following Rourke’s injury — battle it out for the starting quarterback job.
The Lions and Calgary Stampeders both finished 12-6 last season (the Lions won the head-to-head tiebreaker), which marked the second-best record in the CFL. BC advanced to the Division Finals but fell 28-20 to the defending Grey Cup champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who went on to lose the big game to the Toronto Argonauts.
So the Lions remain firmly in win-now mode, and perhaps a versatile weapon like Tate could help the offense. Again, you never know if you don’t try, and even Rourke himself wasn’t a highly-touted prospect coming into the CFL. And look how he turned out.
The Edmonton Elks, coming off a highly disappointing 4-14 season, may also want to consider giving Tate a look. At this time, it looks like veteran Taylor Cornelius and 202 first-round pick Tre Ford will battle for the starting QB position.
Cornelius had some good moments with the Elks despite a limited supporting cast in 2022, completing 205 of 357 pass attempts for 2,768 yards and 11 touchdowns against nine interceptions to go along with 502 rushing yards on 71 carries and seven rushing touchdowns.
But it certainly doesn’t hurt to add another quarterback to the room. And with expectations relatively low coming into 2023, the Elks really have nothing to lose by giving a player like Tate a chance.
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