Sunday, July 31, 2011
Seahawks release former pro bowl MLB Lofa Tatupu
The Seattle Seahawks announced that they are releasing three-time pro bowler middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu. The Seahawks had asked Tatupu to take a pay cut and when he refused he was released. For those who think Pete Carroll was going to turn the Seahawks into a bunch of ex-USC Trojans well think again. Under Carroll the Seahawks have cut Lendale White, traded away Lawrence Jackson, passed on Taylor Mays in the draft and now released Tatupu. For the Seahawks Tatupu was the heart and soul of the defense as he was the team captain from 2006-2010 and was captain for the 2005 playoffs as well. Tatupu is easily Tim Ruskell's best draft pick seeing how he is the only pro bowler he drafted. Tatupu helped lead the Seahawks to the Super Bowl his rookie year as he made the pro bowl. The Seahawks like they did with Matt Hasselbeck are making a decision based on what you can do for the team tomorrow vs what you did yesterday. The Seahawks have just got rid of the two faces of the franchise. The two main captains the last six seasons are no longer in Seattle. Just like with Hasselbeck despite his poor play the last three years the fans shouldn't forget how great Tatupu was from 2005-2007.
When the Seahawks selected the middle linebacker from USC in the second round many thought the Seahawks made a mistake. Instead Tatupu helped lead the Seahawks to the Super Bowl being the only defensive player to make the pro bowl on the team. Tatupu his rookie year led the team in tackles with 86 solo tackles and 19 assisted. Tatupu also had four sacks and three interceptions including a touchdown on monday night football in Philadelphia. In 2006 Tatupu once again made the Pro Bowl with 93 solo tackles and 30 assisted. He 1.5 sacks and 1 interception while forcing two fumbles. Everyone remembers that year in the playoffs Tony Romo fumbled the snap for the Seahawks to win the game. What is often forgotten is the play before Tatupu making a great tackle on Jason Whitten to force the Cowboys to kick the field goal. Whitten caught the pass and Tatupu immdediately tackled him. The play was ruled a first down but after a challenge the Cowboys facing a fourth and inches kicked the potential game winning field goal. Then in 2007 Tatupu made the pro bowl while being named first team all-pro beating out Brian Urlacher and Ray Lewis. That year Tatupu had 83 solo tackles and 26 assisted. Tatupu also had four interceptions including three at Philadelphia with one sack and forced three fumbles. Tatupu became only the second player in NFL history besides Dan Marino to make the pro bowl and win the division title in his first three years in the NFL. Tatupu is the Seahawks greatest middle linebacker of all-time and that isn't even close. For right now the Seahawks will have to wonder who will replace Tatupu's value to the franchise.
The man who will be replacing Tatupu is David Hawthorne who has made 27 starts the last two seasons including 11 at middle linebacker. In 2009 filling in for the injured Tatupu who missed 11 games Hawthorne got his chance. In 16 games and 11 starts Hawthorne had 93 solo tackles and 23 assisted. He also recorded four sacks, three interceptions, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Then last year filling in for the injured Leroy Hill he started all 16 games at outside linebacker. Hawthorne recorded 74 solo tackles and 31 assisted. He also had one interception and forced a fumble. With Hill returning and fourth overall pick from the 2009 draft Aaron Curry being on the outside Hawthorne will take over the middle linebacker spot. Tatupu has had the better career than Hawthorne but right now the past two seasons Hawthorne has outplayed Tatupu which is all Pete Carroll cares about. This is the NFL and Carroll has a job to put the best possible team on the field regardless of sentiment.
In conclusion, seeing Tatupu and Hasselbeck let go in the same week has been tough. Both were my favorite players and I've had their jerseys since 2005 and they both represented a great part of the Seahawks past. That is the thing they represent the past and not the future. Carroll will be viewed as the bad guy and if he wins a Super Bowl the fans will quickly forgive him. Every coach has to make these tough decisions like when Mike Holmgren released Seahawks legend Cortez Kennedy that was tough. Tatupu simply wasn't productive the last three years like Hasselbeck. Both guys are great Seahawks and I look forward to the day when both raise the 12th man flag. I do worry about who will pick up the leadership aspect on this team. I can see Lawyer Milloy on defense but he is aging as well on defense. Ultimately the Seahawks will need Earl Thomas to step up and be the leader on defense like Tatupu was at a young age. While on offense the leader isn't on this roster. The leader needs to be your franchise quarterback which the Seahawks don't have. Carroll is cleaning up this roster and getting rid of the high priced guys living off their name. I want to thank you for your career Tatupu but Carroll is making the right decisions this offseason.