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Originally published March 4, 2010 at 7:28 PM | Page modified March 5, 2010 at 4:10 PM

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Seahawks wide receiver Nate Burleson signs with Detroit

Seahawks lose Nate Burleson to Detroit, make tender offers to four restricted free agents — center Chris Spencer, defensive end Darryl Tapp, guard Rob Sims and receiver Ben Obomanu.

Seattle Times staff reporter

The Seahawks suffered their first loss of the season just two hours into free agency.

Free-agent wide receiver Nate Burleson agreed to terms on a five-year contract with the Detroit Lions, a deal first reported by Scout.com and subsequently confirmed.

It was a five-year contract worth a total of $25 million with Burleson assured of receiving $11 million of that total, first reported by ESPN and subsequently confirmed. Burleson did not return a message immediately from The Seattle Times.

Burleson, 28, played the previous four seasons with Seattle after signing with the Seahawks in 2006. He returned from a torn knee ligament suffered in 2008 and caught 63 passes last season, on pace to finish with the most catches in his career until suffering an injury in Houston that kept him out the final three games.

Last week in Indianapolis, Seahawks GM John Schneider said that he had talked to Burleson and while the receiver was headed toward the free-agent market, the two sides would stay in contact. The hope was Burleson would return.

"Love to have him back," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said.

Burleson said repeatedly his hope was to remain in Seattle, his hometown and where he attended O'Dea High School. He wasn't offered a contract he found satisfactory. Free agency began at 9 p.m. Pacific on Thursday. By 11, he had a deal in Detroit.

Burleson averaged 12.9 yards per reception in 2009, highest in Seattle. He caught 15 touchdown passes in his four seasons as a Seahawk.

Seattle might be interested in Aaron Kampman, a 6-foot-4, 260-pound defensive end, but reports the Seahawks were in hot pursuit of Kampman were premature, according to a report from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Burleson was one of the beneficiaries of the new economic realities of the NFL, which not only shed its salary cap but had about 200 fewer unrestricted free agents.

Those two facts were the result of a process that began two years ago when owners voted to opt out of the current collective-bargaining agreement. If a new CBA wasn't in place by March 5, 2010, there were a number of ramifications. Two of those were that the salary cap would vanish and players would need six accrued seasons to qualify for free agency.

That meant Seattle players like center Chris Spencer, defensive end Darryl Tapp and guard Rob Sims — who would have been unrestricted free agents under the old rules — were now restricted.

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Seattle made what are referred to as "original-round tender offers" to those three players and wide receiver Ben Obomanu, giving Seattle the right to match any offer sheet those players sign with another team or receive a draft pick in the round that player was picked as compensation.

Spencer was a first-round pick, Tapp a second-rounder, Sims a fourth and Obomanu a seventh. The size of the one-year offers to those players was dictated by the number of accrued seasons in the NFL and ranged from $1.226 million for Spencer, who has five seasons, to $1.1 million for Obomanu, who has three.

Note

• Seattle elected not to tender qualifying offers to linebacker Lance Laury and tackle Brandon Frye, making those players unrestricted free agents. Laury was not tendered an offer last year, but still re-signed with Seattle later.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com

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