SEATTLE — In another whirlwind day of free agency, the Seahawks kept one starter from last season while losing two others.
The Seahawks re-signed starting defensive tackle Tony McDaniel to a two-year deal with a maximum value of $6.3 million. Meantime, offensive tackle Breno Giacomini signed with the New York Jets. But the biggest news of the day was the other one who got away: Receiver Golden Tate signed a five-year deal with the Detroit Lions worth $31 million, including $13.25 million guaranteed.
Tate told reporters in Detroit he expected to stay in Seattle, but his value on the market soared beyond what the Seahawks were willing to pay.
“It was true what Pete and Schneider said: I was a priority to come back to Seattle, and I really tried my best to come back,” Tate Tate told Dave “Softy” Mahler on KJR. “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.”
Later, Tate said: “I felt like I earned my keep there, and I felt like they didn’t reward me enough. Let’s not get it wrong: I have so much respect for the Seattle organization, the city of Seattle. I love it. I’ll always root for Seattle no matter what unless they’re playing us. But I didn’t feel like I was going to be taken care of.”
Tate’s departure leaves a hole in the Seattle roster, albeit one the Seahawks saw coming. Tate was their leading receiver a year ago. More than that, he was a highly dangerous punt returner. Tate, 25, was ninth in the league in average yards per punt return last season, and he swung a handful of games in Seattle’s favor with momentum-altering returns (Houston and Tampa Bay come to mind).
That, as much as anything, is an area the Seahawks will need to address in Tate’s absence. Tate was the only player to return a punt for Seattle in 2013. And the Seahawks’ backup punt returner last season, cornerback Walter Thurmond, is also a free agent.
The Seahawks will also look for help at receiver. Seattle already let go of Sidney Rice to avoid paying him a large salary this season, but he could return on a less expensive deal. The Seahawks return Percy Harvin, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and Ricardo Lockette at receiver, and this year’s group of receivers in the draft is widely considered one of the deepest in years.
Once erratic early in his career, Tate became a more consistent receiver. He led the Seahawks in receiving yards and catches last season and caught 69 percent of the passes thrown his way, 17th-best in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.
Tate goes from an offense that ranked 31st in passes attempted a year ago to one that ranked fifth. The Lions threw the ball 214 more times than the Seahawks last season.
Tate was a valuable piece of Seattle’s Super Bowl-winning team, and he was a part of coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider’s first draft class. But he became too expensive for the Seahawks to keep with looming new contracts expected for Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Russell Wilson in the coming years.
Hawks re-sign McDaniel
The good news of the day: The Seahawks were able to keep McDaniel, who started 15 games at defensive tackle last year.
McDaniel, 29, recorded two sacks and 30 tackles, playing opposite Brandon Mebane, and Pro Football Focus rated him the fourth-best tackle in the league against the run. He also gives the Seahawks a potential replacement for defensive end Red Bryant, who was released last week.
Bryant’s role was to knock offensive linemen backward and stop the run. McDaniel has similarities in his physical makeup — Bryant is 6 feet 4, 323 pounds; McDaniel is 6-7, 305 — and has been versatile along the line throughout his career.
Jets sign Giacomini
Giacomini, 28, started nine games for the Seahawks at right tackle last year after missing half of the season with a knee injury. Giacomini was respected in the locker room for his aggressiveness and for playing right up until the whistle, even if opponents often didn’t like it. He sometimes crossed that line and developed a reputation for picking up unnecessary personal fouls during his four years in Seattle, but he was flagged less last season.
The Seahawks could look for a cost-effective veteran tackle in free agency or go with two second-year players: Michael Bowie or Alvin Bailey, both of whom played as rookies.
The Jets’ general manager, John Idzik, was the Seahawks’ vice president of football administration before last season.
Hawks cut Clemons
In a move that was expected, Seattle cut defensive end Chris Clemons. Clemons was owed $9.7 million. By releasing him, the Seahawks saved $7.5 million in salary cap space.
Clemons, 32, had his least productive season in a Seahawks uniform after returning from an ACL injury in last year’s playoffs. Clemons had 4.5 sacks — he had at least 11 sacks in each of his previous three years — and he became expendable after Seattle re-signed Michael Bennett earlier in the week.
The NFL Network reported that Clemons will meet with Jacksonville.
He is expected to sign with the Jaguars, who are coached by former Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley.
Maragos goes to Eagles
Backup safety Chris Maragos signed a three-year deal reportedly worth $4 million, including $1 million guaranteed.
Maragos, 27, served as Thomas’ backup at free safety. He rarely played there because Thomas has yet to miss a game in his career, but Maragos was a standout on special teams.
Hawks sign Price
The Seahawks signed free-agent receiver Taylor Price. Price, a third-round pick for the Patriots in 2010, missed the past two years because of injuries. Price, 26, played one game in 2010 with the Patriots and played in five games in 2011 with the Patriots and Jaguars.
He was a well-regarded player heading into the 2010 draft.