It’s starting to become obvious why it’s so difficult to keep a Super Bowl-winning team together. In less than 24 hours of free agency, the Seahawks have lost four players, including wide receiver Golden Tate.
Tate signed a five-year deal with the Detroit Lions on Wednesday, reportedly for $31 million, including $13.25 million guaranteed. That price was too high for the Seahawks, along with the length of the deal. Seattle was willing to offer Tate a four-year deal and around $20 million.
Other than defensive lineman Michael Bennett, who the Seahawks re-signed Monday, Tate was the top free agent Seattle wanted to keep. Not only was he the team’s top receiver last season, he also blossomed into one of the best punt returners in the league.
This loss stings deeply and it shows how difficult it is, even with the best intentions, to keep all the key players on a championship team.
Seattle also has lost defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (to Tampa Bay), back-up safety and special team standout Chris Maragos (to Philadelphia) and defensive end O’Brien Schofield (to the New York Giants) in the first 24 hours of free agency.
For Seattle fans, it’s a little depressing at the moment, but take a deep breath. General manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll won’t sit on their hands. Quality players will be added soon, but they probably can’t get everything Tate gave them.
Obviously, a healthy Percy Harvin in 2014 is essential now to the team’s continued success. And punt-returning duties are wide open. Harvin never has returned punts in the NFL, in case you’re wondering.
Tate sent out a couple of tweets Wednesday, wanting all the Seattle fans to know how much he appreciates his four years with the team:
“Seattle I am extremely thankful for the support and love the city has given me over the past 4 years. It's tough to leave such a great place. I appreciate everything the city, coaches, and teammates have done for me. I will always value how great Seattle was to me.”
But the Lions showed Tate $31 million worth of love. He took it. Who can blame him? Players who have a great season on a Super Bowl team will get their money.
The Lions made Tate an offer he couldn’t refuse, and the Seahawks are learning that keeping a Super Bowl team together is easier said than done.