COMMENTARY | Front-office decisions regarding whether to re-sign an NFL player typically come toward the end of a season, not three games into one.
But for Seattle, wide receiver Golden Tate is quickly stating his case as to why he should be donning Seahawks blue come next year.
To most outside of Seattle, he's the receiver who benefited from a controversial, game-winning touchdown call against the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football last year.
But to many in Seattle, or anyone who has watched its games this year, he's the spark, the guy who is moving toward reaching the potential Seahawks brass recognized when they took him in the second round of the 2010 draft.
Going into the 2013-14 campaign, the future of the fourth-year player from Notre Dame -- who's in the last year of his contract -- was as hazy as a morning fog over Elliot Bay.
Over the summer, Seattle acquired the explosive Percy Harvin and his potential to bust open any given play. The Seahawks have lacked such a threat for some time, even during last year's playoff run.
The assumption was Harvin's presence would equate to less touches for Tate, 25, and fellow receiver Doug Baldwin.
But, as luck would have it for them, Harvin chose to undergo surgery on an injured hip that will sideline him through at least the middle of the season.
If fate had a Twitter account, think of Harvin's surgery as a direct message to Tate: #showemwhatyougot
Message received, apparently.
Through the first three games, Tate leads the team in receptions (10) and is averaging 15.8 yards per catch. He also has returned the team's punts -- another job thought to be Harvin's -- with 11.2 yards per return.
He has exhibited a unique brand of raw athleticism, whether it's leaping for high passes or challenging tacklers head-on.
More importantly, he has shown an ability to get open when quarterback Russell Wilson moves away from the pocket. Seahawk fans might remember when Bobby Engram used to do the same kind of thing for Matt Hasselback around the time the Seahawks went to their only Super Bowl in 2005.
All of that is making the question of whether to allow Tate to slip into free agency after this season a tough one for general manager John Schneider.
Is Tate worth keeping in Seattle? The bigger question is whether the Seahawks are willing to allow Tate to catch balls and return punts for another team, perhaps within the NFC West. It's not hard to envision Tate freeing himself and getting open for a scrambling Colin Kaepernick, or taking defensive pressure off Larry Fitzgerald.
Those are things Seahawks fans might find difficult to imagine, but they're possibilities. Tate's play the rest of the year will determine whether they're realistic.
If Schneider and the Seahawks front office are impressed with what they've seen from Tate so far this year, they'll do the smart thing and make it impossible by re-signing him.
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Brent Champaco is an award-winning writer who has covered professional, college and high school athletics in the Northwest. He has worked for several newspapers, including The News Tribune in Tacoma, and was a Senior Local Editor at Patch.com. He lives just outside of Seattle with his wife and two daughters. Follow him on Twitter at @Champacoblog.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Percy Harvin
- Golden Tate
- Green Bay Packers