ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — The Detroit Lions made it crystal clear to Golden Tate that he was their top target in free agency.
They booked a flight for the wide receiver on Tuesday — when free agency began — and courted him the next day at team headquarters. The pitch included a chat with team vice chairman Bill Ford, just three days after the death of his father, team owner William Clay Ford.
Tate, who was the top receiver last season for the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, liked what he heard and joined the Lions on Wednesday, the second day of NFL free agency. He got a five-year deal worth $31 million with $13.25 million guaranteed, according to a person familiar with the negotiations who spoke on condition of anonymity because terms were not announced by the team.
"There's a ton of upside to this organization," Tate said. "And one thing that really stood out to me is that Mr. Ford found some time to meet with me. 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 to have a conversation, that meant a lot. I felt like I was wanted here."
Tate said the Seahawks made him an offer to stay, and that the New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars also expressed interest. He insisted it wasn't tempting to find out if the Jets or Jaguars would offer him more than the Lions did, but acknowledged it was tempting to ask the Seahawks to make another offer.
"I had a great four years in Seattle," he said. "I'm going to miss that place to death. Great city, great people, great fans. But for me, it just made more sense to come here."
First-year Lions coach Jim Caldwell said landing Tate was a big deal for the team, which has been looking to complement All-Pro receiver Calvin Johnson.
"We were looking, from an offensive standpoint, to find a guy who could go on the other side and be our No. 2 and play opposite to Calvin and give us some work inside and out," Caldwell said. "Golden Tate is going to be that individual."
Tate led the Seahawks with 64 catches and 898 yards receiving last season, both career highs. The former Notre Dame star also scored five touchdowns last season, giving him 15 in his four-year career.