Wide receiver Golden Tate waved goodbye to the Seattle Seahawks on Wednesday.
Three others did so, as well. Only one came back.
Tate signed a five-year, $31 million deal with $13.25 million guaranteed to join the Detroit Lions.
Right tackle Breno Giacomini signed a contract with the New York Jets. Contract details were not available.
Backup safety and skilled special teams player Chris Maragos signed a reported three-year deal for $4 million with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Veteran defensive end Chris Clemons was released, another casualty of the salary cap. His departure will save the Seahawks $7.5 million against the cap.
Defensive tackle Tony McDaniel re-signed with the team for a reported two years and maximum value of $6.3 million. McDaniel worked on the inside with Brandon Mebane to form a strong run-stuffing duo.
Tate was a homegrown player who evolved into crucial roles during his fourth, and final, season with the Seahawks.
After being drafted in the second round of the 2010 draft, Tate worked his way toward prominence. Last season, he led the Seahawks’ run-first offense in receptions and yards. He was ninth in the league in average punt return distance, good enough to make him a Pro Bowl alternate at the position.
According to ESPN Stats and Info, Tate gained 17.6 percent of his yards after contact last season, which led receivers.
Tuesday night, once he became a free agent, Tate visited Detroit. He was scheduled to leave Wednesday morning, but a snowstorm postponed his flight. He went upstairs to take a nap. When he awoke, his agent and the Lions were figuring out a contract which he signed later Wednesday.
Tate had often professed his love for the Seahawks and Seattle. He sprawled across the painted “12th Man” logo on the side of the field after the Seahawks beat the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC title game.
The allure of a strong contract and opportunity to play in a pass-first offense opposite arguably the best receiver in the league, Calvin Johnson, resulted in Tate not returning to Seattle.
That leaves the Seahawks with two spots to fill: top receiver and skilled punt returner.
Percy Harvin, should he stay healthy, will give the Seahawks a dynamic wide receiver option they spent most of last season without. Though, Harvin does not play the same spots as Tate. The Seahawks will use Harvin in the slot, motioned into and out of the backfield and on fly sweeps. Tate was lined up outside.
Doug Baldwin, a restricted free agent wide receiver likely to be back, spent a portion of the season lined up wide instead of his usual slot position. Tacoma’s Jermaine Kearse could also see his playing time increase.
In all likelihood, the Seahawks will look to bring in a replacement for Tate. Wednesday, they signed wide receiver Taylor Price, who was drafted by the New England Patriots in 2010 but spent the last two seasons injured for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Price has five career receptions for 80 yards.
The Seahawks had previously signed wide receiver Chris Matthews out of the Canadian Football League. Matthews is 6-foot-5, the size of receiver the Seahawks are lacking, and was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Rookie in 2012 when he caught 81 passes for 1,192 yards. He missed most of the 2013 season, however, because of various injuries.
Clemons had a slow start to last season before coming on at the end of the year. He was very productive in the Super Bowl, but his cap hit was significant considering the Seahawks are trying to figure out how to sign free safety Earl Thomas and cornerback Richard Sherman to long-term deals before they become free agents in 2015.
Clemons is reportedly visiting the Jacksonville Jaguars, where former Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley is head coach and has been acquiring former Seattle players, such as Red Bryant.
Giacomini leaving appears to clear the way for Michael Bowie to become the starting right tackle. A seventh-round pick in 2013, Bowie made seven starts at right tackle in place of Giacomini last season when the latter injured his knee. The Seahawks are likely to seek some veteran depth at that position, too.
All this, in just the second day of free agency.