Golden Tate signs with Lions

Posted Mar 12, 2014

The Seahawks had set retaining leading receiver Golden Tate as a priority in free agency, but he had other thoughts and Wednesday signed a five-year contract with the Detroit Lions.

One priority down, and one that got away.

Before the NFL free-agency period began Tuesday, Seahawks general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll had listed retaining sack leader Michael Bennett and leading receiver Golden Tate as priorities.

Bennett was re-signed Monday, but Tate on Wednesday opted to sign with the Detroit Lions, the team’s website announced. Tate also confirmed the details of the contract to ESPN: five years, $31 million, with $13.25 million guaranteed.

Tate, a second-round draft choice in 2010, grew into an NFL-caliber receiver with the Seahawks. He caught 21 passes for 227 yards and did not start a game as a rookie, but his numbers increased each season, along with his playing time: 35 receptions for 382 yards and three touchdown catches in 2011, when he started five games; 45 receptions for 688 yards and seven TDs in 2012, when he started 15 games; and 64 receptions for 898 yards and five TDs last season, when he started 13 games.

Tate also averaged 11.5 yards on 51 punt returns last season for the Super Bowl champion Seahawks.

PHOTO GALLERY: Best of Golden Tate

His critics continue to point out that Tate is not a true No. 1 receiver, but he won’t have to be with the Lions because of the presence of Calvin Johnson, who has caught at least 77 passes while averaging 1,564 receiving yards the past four seasons – including career-highs of 122 catches for 1,964 yards in 2012.

One thing Tate won’t get from the Lions is the No. 81 he wore with the Seahawks, because that’s Johnson’s number in Detroit.

The emergence of Jermaine Kearse last season and continuing improvement of Doug Baldwin will help the Seahawks adjust to the loss of Tate – as will getting a full season from Percy Harvin, who played in one regular season game and two playoff games after being acquired in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings last March.