AUBURN – Golden Tate spoke to students at Auburn Riverside High School on Thursday about the dangers of driving and texting.
Tate, who has emerged as one of the Seahawks’ players most active in community events during his four years with the team, said it’s the last such appearance he has scheduled until his golf tournament in June.
What team he might be representing then, though, remains in question.
Tate is one of Seattle’s more notable of 16 unrestricted free agents — a list that also includes defensive end Michael Bennett, cornerback Walter Thurmond, kicker Steven Hauschka and right tackle Breno Giacomini.
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Teams can begin negotiating with free agents March 8, and can begin signing them March 11. Teams have until Monday to designate someone as a franchise player. But Seattle general manager John Schneider said last week the Seahawks don’t plan to put that designation on any player.
And for pending free agents such as Tate, all of that means a few more weeks of uncertainty, with the knowledge that crunch time is coming soon.
“I really can’t worry about it because I did my part,’’ said Tate, who led Seattle with 64 receptions for 898 yards in 2013 and also became one of the better punt returners in the NFL, averaging 11.5 yards.
“I did the tough part, and that’s performing on the field,” he said, speaking to a few reporters in the library at Auburn Riverside before an assembly that was part of Verizon Wireless’ “Save It Seattle’’ campaign warning against texting and driving.
“And hopefully, I can call Seattle home for a few more years. But we’ll see. I know that coach (Pete) Carroll has expressed that he would like to have me on the team, and I have expressed that I would like to stay on this team because I see this team winning for a long time. But we will see. Only time will tell.’’
Tate, who said he hopes to have an offer from the Seahawks around the time of the beginning of the free-agency period, said he hasn’t spent a lot of time thinking about the process.
But he said he did notice Thursday that Philadelphia signed receiver Riley Cooper to an extension of five years for $25 million, with a reported $10 million guaranteed.
Cooper had similar numbers to Tate in 2013, with 47 catches for 835 yards and eight touchdowns. And NFL observers wrote Thursday that Cooper’s deal might have helped set a precedent that it will be more of a buyer’s market for receivers in a year there are many options at that position (in an NFL.com rating of free agents released this week, eight of the top 52 are receivers).
Tate, though, said he didn’t consider Cooper’s deal as setting a market for what he might get.
“I’m not in any way comparing my situation to his because they are very, very different,” Tate said.
Tate has good reason for not having paid much attention yet to free agency.
He called the days since the Seahawks won the Super Bowl “chaotic, and I mean that in the best way possible.’’
He spent a few days relaxing in Las Vegas, then traveled to Brazil with a contingent of NFL players that included Seahawks Marshawn Lynch and Russell Okung to promote American football. He was honored in his hometown of Hendersonville, Tenn., which proclaimed Monday as Golden H. Tate III Day.
“I didn’t see that coming,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of fun. Winning a world championship is the way to go, let me tell you.”
Returning to Seattle this week, though, brought back some of the realities of the NFL.
The Seahawks are expected to soon cut receiver Sidney Rice, and are also thought to be considering releasing defensive end Red Bryant, moves necessary to clear up salary-cap space to sign their own free agents, such as Tate and Bennett, as well as pursue others from around the league.
“It’s tough,” Tate said. “But it is what it is. Sidney Rice is a great friend of mine, so is Red Bryant. I don’t know their situations, what they are going to do. But I hope the best for them.
“ … It is tough. You go to war with guys for a whole year and you’ve had your lows and your highs. And then the sad part about the Super Bowl is looking at that locker room. That locker room is never going to be the same — never. You are going to lose coaches, you are going to lose players. That’s just the game.”
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699
or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @bcondotta