During Seattle’s 7-1 finishing kick that marked the Seahawks as a legit Super Bowl contender, Tate finally began to become the player the Seahawks suspected he could be when they took him in the second round of the 2010 draft.
Tate led all Seattle receivers in the last nine games with 32 catches for 497 yards and four touchdowns, appearing to forge a solid chemistry with quarterback Russell Wilson. He finished with a career-high 45 receptions for the season. He then had another 10 catches in Seattle’s two playoff games.
All of that sent Tate into the offseason with happy visions of an even bigger step forward in 2013, a year that looms critical to his future as the initial four-year contract he signed with the Seahawks expires at the end of the season.
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So Tate admits he initially cast a somewhat quizzical eye when the Seahawks, under the direction of coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider, acquired receiver Percy Harvin from Minnesota in April.
“When I first heard, I hadn’t spoken to any of the coaching staff or the (general manager) or the owner or anybody, so I didn’t really know what to think at that time,’’ Tate said. “But shortly after, speaking to Pete and John, they explained it to me that it shouldn’t affect me much.’’
Carroll said he understood Tate’s first reaction.
“Initially Golden wondered, ‘OK, what does that mean to me?’ ’’ Carroll said. “He was concerned about that. A number of the players were.’’
The recently concluded three-week set of 10 organized training activities, though, helped further calm any concerns Tate had about how he and the rest of the receivers will coexist with Harvin.
Harvin primarily will line up as an inside, or slot, receiver while Tate is primarily outside, a spot he played most of last season after the team stopped with its experiment of 2011 to make him more of an inside receiver. With Sidney Rice also primarily an outside receiver, the Seahawks could go with a lot more three-receiver sets this season.
“I’m excited about it,’’ Tate said. “I like the way the offense is playing out to use him. … I’m excited to see how creative our offensive coordinators and receivers and coaches can get.’’
Carroll says there shouldn’t be an issue finding enough touches for all of the receivers.
“We’re not counting on tilting the field toward one guy or the other,’’ he said. “I’m not thinking that way. We’re just going to go play football.
“Golden is really ready to be a terrific football player. We love what he does, and we just have to get him the ball more and spread it around to him. It took him a couple years to get going and now he’s legit for us and we love what he brings. And he does different things than what Percy does. Percy is a very unique quality guy. I think it’s going to fit together just fine.”
And Tate insists the fact that his contract is up after this season isn’t weighing heavily on his mind, even though he might have as much individually on the line this season as any Seahawk.
This is the final year of the four-season, $3.6 million deal he signed in 2010, and with another season like 2012 he could be one of the most sought after free agents for 2014. A step back, though, and the market could cool considerably.
“You know, I’m not worried about contract talk,’’ he said. “I’m just going to pray on it and hope it will work out just fine and hopefully I’m here for a long time.’’
“I hear it (when others talk about his contract situation) but I don’t listen to it much. Regardless of if I have five more years on my contract or I am looking for an extension or whatever the case is, I’m showing up to work hard and be the best I can be, and I think that’s why Pete has me here and has had me play through my contract because he sees the potential that I have.’’
In fact, Tate says he owes something of a debt of gratitude to the organization for sticking with him during his first two seasons, when he caught just 56 passes for three touchdowns.
He says now he thought the transition from his days at Notre Dame to the NFL would be easier than it was.
“I’m thinking ‘Football is football. Come out here and make plays, end of story,’ ’’ he said. “But it’s more than that.’’
Before his second season came the lockout and the loss of OTAs and other offseason activities at a time Tate felt he needed the extra development, as well as the experiment playing him more inside.
“That was tough for me,’’ he said of going to the slot. “Not saying I couldn’t do it, but I struggled with it. My third year, I finally came in and made a bunch of plays and showed that mentally, I have matured and I was ready to help this team.
“It took a lot of patience from the coaching staff. A lot of guys wouldn’t have hung in there for three years to give a guy a chance, but they did. And I’m very thankful for that and I thought last year was kind of the start of a great career.’’
|Coming on strong|
Statistics for Seattle’s leading receivers the last nine games of the 2012 regular season.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @bcondotta