Allen Park — It's been five years since Golden Tate left Seattle for Detroit, but the Lions receiver still has a fondness for his former coach, and those feelings are mutual.
Tate signed a five-year, $31 million contract with Detroit in 2014. At the time, he called Seattle's offer to keep him laughable. But coming off a Super Bowl victory, with the league's best defense, the Seahawks couldn't afford to pay everyone and Tate was a causality of that reality.
Tate was just coming into his own as a professional. In his final season with Seattle, he caught a personal best 64 passes for 898 yards and five touchdowns. He's taken his performance to another level in Detroit, hauling in at least 90 receptions four straight years and topping 1,000 yards three of the four.
He's on pace to top both benchmarks again this year (37 catches, 467 yards, 3 TDs).
"I liked him a lot and sometimes you just can't get it done, you know? It just doesn't fit. I don't mind saying that," Carroll said earlier this week. "I think Golden's a great player. I love the way he plays. As a young guy coming in, he always had a knack. He was such a naturally competitive kind of athletically artistic type of guy in this style. He can make you miss and break tackles and do things that a lot of guys didn't do. It just came so naturally and easy to him. He was always fun to have on our club — as a returner too, which he's doing now. So yeah, we just couldn't get it done at the time."
If Tate had any hard feelings toward the Seahawks, they certainly don't extend to Carroll. The receiver credited the coach's patience as a key reason for his success with the Lions.
"Pete and my position coach (Kippy Brown), they were extremely patient with me," Tate said. "They didn't rush me into any situations, which, looking back at it, being rushed as a young player can kind of ruin your career sometimes. He just always loved me, always worked with me, always looked for a way to get me on the field.
"Pretty much my third year is when it all clicked and I was able to help the team consistently," Tate said. "Big thanks to him and my position coach. I was a late second-rounder, and with a team like that, trying to figure out the recipe for winning, I seen a lot of guys — a couple guys from my draft class, that were drafted year later, two years later — that were gone. He could have traded me off, said, 'Screw this guy,' but he always looked out for me. I respected him a lot and really enjoyed played for him."
Tate claims he's spent little time reflecting on his connection with this week's opponent. He's putting all of his energy into the game plan, given the importance of the contest for the 3-3 Lions.
He's sure he'll spend a few minutes catching up with Carroll, general manager John Schneider and some of the equipment and training staff before Sunday's kickoff, but Tate's top priority is getting a win.
"I think one thing that made us gel is we're both over-the-top competitors," Tate said about Carroll. "Literally everything he does and says is all about competition. You see that and that's kind of the personality that entire team has."
The Seahawks come to Detroit with one of the league's top pass defenses. The team ranks first in yards allowed and are top-five in passer rating against and interceptions.
Tate leads the Lions with 37 catches for 467 yards and is tied for the team lead with three touchdown receptions.