Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Tuesday that he thinks Seattle's offer to receiver Golden Tate in 2014 didn't get communicated well and Tate didn't understand how much the team wanted to keep him.
Seattle’s wild card playoff game against Detroit Saturday marks another reunion with a key member of the Seahawks’ 2013 Super Bowl champs — receiver Golden Tate.
In some of his most extensive comments on Tate’s departure, though, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll made clear Tuesday he wished Tate had stayed — and said maybe things would worked out differently had the team been able to tell Tate how much it wanted to keep him.
Tate, recall, became an unrestricted free agent following the 2013 season and then signed with Detroit almost immediately when the free agent signing period opened, agreeing to a five-year, $31 million deal that included $13.25 million guaranteed.
Tate agreed to the contract while on a visit to Detroit, with the Lions portrayed as essentially willing to do whatever it took to get him to sign before leaving to visit anyone else.
Tate has said in several interviews since that he felt the Seahawks sort of low-balled him, at one point calling the offer “laughable.’’
In an interview that day on KJR-AM Tate said “I tried to find every excuse to justify coming back. But at the end of the day it just didn’t make sense for me or my family. I didn’t feel like I was going to get what I was worthy, despite the market, despite the draft class.”
Carroll, though, said Tuesday during a conference call with Detroit media and later in his regular weekly press conference, that he thinks Tate was unaware of what the Seahawks were willing to offer him.
“We did try to bring him back,’’ Carroll said. “We made an offer that didn’t get communicated really well at the time and I think he’s a terrific player. I loved him on our team, but you can’t keep everybody and so during the process of the negotiations it just, he went elsewhere. But our players and our coaches, we think the world of him and he’s fun to watch and we watch him every week and we’ll have a good time competing against him.’’
Asked what it meant that the offer didn’t get communicated to Tate, Carroll said: “I’m not going into it. That’s the agent’s talk. You can talk to them.’’
Asked if the numbers were close, Carroll said: “I don’t remember those numbers at the time, but I’ll just tell you this. There was a time when Golden didn’t know that we had made him an offer and he thought we didn’t, and that’s because it wasn’t communicated. I just felt bad about that. I don’t even know what the numbers were at the time, but that wasn’t the point. It was we were interested in bringing him back and he didn’t get that sense from us, and I was disappointed in that. But they were going to go higher than we were able to go anyway. I just think the world of him and I didn’t like that it didn’t come across really clearly at the time. That’s my opinion of it. And at this point, I could care less about it.’’
Later, during his press conference with Seattle media, Carroll clarified that he didn’t mean to imply that Tate would have definitely re-signed with the Seahawks, and also that he felt the Seahawks deserved some of the blame for whatever miscommunication there was.
“I was disappointed that we didn’t communicate with Golden really clearly our end of it,’’ Carroll said. “I didn’t feel like he had all the information that he needed and we needed to do a better of that and I felt that when I realized what had happened we were too late to really make a shot of it. The thing happened the first week of free agency — it’s crazy that time of year, stuff is flying and all of that. So we lost him.
“But that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t have lost him no mater what because he got paid really well. He got a great contract and all that. The rest of it I don’t care about. I just wish we would have communicated better so everybody would have had the information and that was really on us.’’
It’s worth remembering Seattle’s situation at the time.
Seattle had Percy Harvin returning and also had Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse emerging — Baldwin signed an extension a few months later.
Seattle also that year re-signed Michael Bennett, Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas. Essentially, it was generally considered that Tate was sort of the odd man out when it came to free agent priority, with Seattle banking on Harvin, Baldwin and Kearse and what was regarded at the time as a really good receiving class in the draft (Seattle used its first pick on Paul Richardson and another in the fourth round on Kevin Norwood).
Tate also expressed enthusiasm at the time about going to an offense that passes more (at the time, almost no one in the NFL was passing less than Seattle).
Tate’s numbers have indeed increased substantially — after catching a then career-high 64 passes in 2013 to lead the Seahawks, Tate has caught 90 or more in each of his three seasons in Detroit, including a team-high 91 this season for 1,077 yards.
Carroll told Detroit reporters he is not surprised by Tate’s increased production with the Lions.
“Well, I think he’s had an opportunity to be in a system that was willing to really go for it with him, and he’s taken full advantage of it,’’ Carroll said. “He’s a great player and a great athlete. The more activity the better for him. As you know, he’s such a great run-after-catch guy, too. They were just more committed to dropback throwing and utilizing him in the way they have, and they’ve done a great job with him.’’
Tate first returned to Seattle for a Monday night game last October, catching three passes for 29 yards in a 13-10 Seahawks win.