After a few days of discussions, coach Pete Carroll said the Seahawks and Lofa Tatupu “mutually figured out” that Pro Bowl middle linebacker would be released.
“We came to an understanding that this is a good thing, so on we go,” Carroll said today after practice at the team’s training camp. “I love Lofa … but because this is a decision we agreed to, I support him. We helped him in this regard and he helped us.
“It’s just a mutual agreement we made that we both feel good about.”
Tatupu, a second-round draft choice in 2005 who led the team in tackles in each of his first four seasons, was asked to restructure his contract, according to reports. Instead, he met with Carroll on Saturday night and asked for his release.
In addition to the Pro Bowl honors and being the only player in franchise history to lead the team in tackles four consecutive seasons, Tatupu also was voted a defensive captain five times and selected to the Seahawks’ 35th Anniversary team.
Tatupu participated in the walk-thru sessions on Thursday that opened the team’s second training camp under Carroll, but he sat out the practices Friday and Saturday and was not even on the field for the walk-thru on Saturday afternoon.
With Tatupu sitting out, David Hawthorne moved inside and was replaced at weak-side linebacker by rookie Malcolm Smith, a seventh-round draft choice from USC. Hawthorne led the team in tackles in 2009, when he stepped in after Tatupu was lost for the season because of a torn pectoral muscle. When Tatupu returned last season, Hawthorne moved to the weak side and also led the team in tackles.
Hawthorne becomes the starter in the middle and Carroll said the first option in replacing Hawthorne on the weak side will be Leroy Hill, who was just re-signed on Friday and won’t be able to practice until Thursday.
The release of Tatupu leaves only two players on the roster from the Seahawks’ Super Bowl team in 2005 – cornerback Marcus Trufant and Hill.