Golden Tate was scheduled to fly out of Detroit after meeting with the Lions around lunchtime on Wednesday, but his flight was cancelled due to the latest winter storm striking the area.
While Tate told reporters after his introductory press conference later Wednesday that he probably would have signed with the team anyway -- having to fly back Thursday to officially sign a deal -- the winter season that just won’t let go of Metro Detroit benefited the Lions in this instance.
It allowed the Lions and Tate to agree on a five-year deal, worth a reported $31 million.
“I came here and kind of hung out,” Tate said. “I couldn’t go anywhere because there weren’t any flights outbound, which is probably a good thing. I had a chance to hang around here a little longer to give these guys more of a chance.
“Actually, they have a sleep room here, did you know that? With like three beds, three or four beds and it is comfortable. So, I got a nice little nap in and I woke up and the next thing I know I had a great offer on the table that I couldn’t wait to jump on.”
“We were looking, from the offensive standpoint, to find a guy who could go on the other side and be our No. 2 and play opposite of Calvin (Johnson)," Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said.
“Certainly give us some work inside and out with immeasurable talent catching the ball and then also a guy who can provide some great leadership as well.”
Tate said playing alongside Johnson was certainly a selling point for him, but so too was playing with Stafford, playing for this new coaching staff and being a part of the offense the Lions plan to run under Caldwell and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi.
“First and foremost, anytime I have the opportunity to play with one of the greatest receivers ever to play the game, I’m going to jump on that,” Tate said.
“Not only because I’m going to have the opportunity to learn from Calvin (Johnson), but (Matthew) Stafford has a great arm, a strong arm. I see this team being good, being good for a long time, winning a bunch of games.
“You know, I was sitting in my bed last night watching highlights of Detroit and I just felt like I could call this place home.”
Tate, 25, was among the top available receivers in free agency and the Lions top target after catching 64 passes for 898 yards and five touchdowns as the Super Bowl champion Seahawks’ top receiver for most of the season.
The former Notre Dame product has caught 165 passes for 2,195 yards and 15 touchdowns in four seasons. The last two have seen him catch 109 of those passes for 1,586 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Tate said after watching film of Detroit on his own, then with some of the coaching staff during his visit, there was little doubt he’ll thrive playing in this offense.
“One thing that I did notice from watching (Matthew) Stafford throw the ball today when I was meeting with coach (Joe) Lombardi is that sometimes Stafford will throw a cover guy open,” Tate said.
“What I mean by that is he might throw a back-shoulder or throw it high and to the right and I feel like that’s one thing I excel at, is catching low balls and balls that are outside my frame. So, I strongly believe that I’m going to help Stafford with his completions and also help Calvin and help this offense.
“I see myself being a great complement to Calvin. I see him being a great complement to myself.
“I mentioned earlier that a lot of times he’s going to get doubled, which is going to leave me back side or front side one-on-one. After speaking with the coaches for a few hours I have an enormous confidence in their ability to get our guys open.”