By Brady Henderson
The start of free agency has been defined more by departures than additions for the Seahawks, and on Wednesday they experienced their biggest loss yet.
Wide receiver Golden Tate signed a five-year deal with the Lions, which leaves Seattle without its leading receiver from 2013 and one of its top offensive playmakers. They moved quickly to add another receiver, reportedly signing former Patriot and Jaguar Taylor Price.
Tate’s deal, he told ESPN, has a total value of $31 million and includes $13.25 million guaranteed. It’s just above what wide receiver Brian Hartline received last offseason from Miami — $30.75 million over five years with $12.5 million guaranteed — which was considered to be in the neighborhood of what Tate could expect.
It was apparently too rich for the Seahawks, who are already paying receiver Percy Harvin an average of $11 million per season and have several other key players whose bills are about to come due.
“I had a great four years in Seattle,” Tate told reporters as he was introduced by the Lions. “I’m going to miss that place to death. Great city, great people, great fans. But for me, it just made more sense to come here.”
In addition to leading the Super Bowl champion Seahawks with 64 recpetions for 898 yards in 2013, Tate emerged as one of the league’s most productive punt returners in what was his first season handling those duties.
That made Tate one of Seattle’s top free agents. He repeatedly expressed a strong desire to return to the Seahawks, who drafted him in the second round in 2010, endured his growing pains and watched him blossom into one of their best players. He even said he’d be willing to give Seattle a slight discount, which is an indication that the Seahawks’ offer wasn’t very close to what he’s getting from the Lions.
In addition to his nice payday, Tate also has a chance to show what he can do in one of the league’s top passing offenses. While Seattle attempted the second-fewest passes in the NFL last season, only four teams threw the ball more than Detroit. And playing opposite Calvin Johnson — unamimously considered the league’s best receiver — should create opportunities given all the attention he commands.
“For what I want to achieve and what I want to be a part of, I felt like this was the best place for me to go,” Tate told reporters, according to the Detroit Free Press. “This team throws the ball a whole bunch, which as a receiver, that’s very encouraging.”