By Ashley Dunkak
ALLEN PARK (CBS DETROIT) – With a little help from a lot of snow, the Detroit Lions scored big in free agency by signing 25-year-old wide receiver Golden Tate. The former Seattle Seahawk was scheduled to leave town early Wednesday afternoon but ended up stuck in the city because there were no outgoing flights due to the weather.
Instead of getting back on a plane, Tate hung out at the Lions practice facility. He talked with Bill Ford Jr., the team’s vice chairman. Tate also visited head coach Jim Caldwell, offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, assistant head coach Ron Prince, wide receivers coach Robert Prince and other coaches. Finally, Tate took a nap.
“Next thing I knew,” Tate said with a smile, “I had a great offer on the table that I couldn’t wait to jump on.”
Tate signed with the Lions for five years and $31 million, with $13.25 million guaranteed.
The wide receiver said the deal probably would have gotten done even had he not been snowed in. He just would have had to rack up a few more frequent flier miles by flying back to Detroit again the following day, he joked. The pass-happy offense spearheaded by quarterback Matthew Stafford and superstar wide receiver Calvin Johnson looked like a perfect fit to Tate, who played the last four seasons for a run-heavy Seattle team.
“First and foremost, any time I have the opportunity to play with one of the greatest receivers ever to play the game, I’m going to jump on that, not only because I’m going to have the opportunity to learn from Calvin, but Stafford has a great arm, strong arm,” Tate said. “I see this team being good, being good for a long time.
“One thing that really stood out to me was Mr. Ford took some time to meet with me today,” Tate added. “I know he’s been going through a lot lately with family issues, so for him to find time in his busy schedule to meet with me and have a conversation, that meant a lot, and I felt like I was wanted here. I’m kind of shaking still, but I’m super excited to be here and can’t wait to get started.”
Tate does not know yet what number he will wear as a Lion. With the Seahawks, he wore No. 81. Clearly, that will not be an option for him in Detroit, no matter how excited fans are to see him in Honolulu blue. No. 81 belongs to Johnson, and Tate has zero problem with that.
“I don’t care about number,” Tate said. “I’m excited to be here, have the opportunity to play some football, catch a bunch of balls, win a bunch of games and be around great people.”
The free agent spent time watching highlights of the Lions, and he liked what he saw. He said he believes he will be a great complement for Johnson and bring out the best in Stafford.
“Sometimes Stafford will throw a covered guy open, and what I mean by that, he might throw it back shoulder or throw it high and to the right, and I feel like that’s one thing I excel at is catching low balls and balls that are outside of my frame,” Tate said. “I strongly believe that I’m going to help Stafford with his completions and also help Calvin and help this offense.
“After talking to Coach Prince and Coach Joe, I definitely see myself moving around – in the slot, outside, over to Calvin’s side, us stacking sometimes,” Tate continued. “There’s so many things you can do with a player like myself and Calvin that it’s going to be hard to stop us, to be honest.”