So reports have it, Tatupu went into Carroll's office Saturday night and requested to be released after being asked to restructure. So let's hash it out. Why would Tatupu refuse restructuring?
Pictured: Lofa, deep in meditative thought.
Scheduled to make $4.35 million this year, Tats was around one of the better compensated linebackers in the league, with the league average linebacker salary hovering a little above $1 million. For comparisons sake, at the high end Urlacher makes $7.5, Ray Lewis ~$10 while Stephen Tulloch, a better comparison for Tatupu, just signed a 1 year deal worth $3.25 million (1.8 guaranteed). So if you're great, $5+, good ~$3, down to league average ~$1.1 and then camp filler/vet minimums etc.
Obviously the 'Hawks wanted to prevent the LB spot from becoming a cap liability, with Curry making ~$5 till 2014 when his contract balloons to over $8 million. And I'm not positive, but I believe Hawthorne has one year remaining worth $1.38 million. While he played outside for the majority of last season, many will remember "Heater" got his first big shot at destroying moving things on the football field on the inside after Lofa tore his pectoral. If I'm the 'Hawks, I'm high on "Heater" (I really enjoyed writing that, just to let you know), and thus want to have the flexibility to sign him a bit longer. Reading between the lines; not pay Tatupu $5 million next season.
So from what I've read, the Hawk's likely would have wanted Tats to take a reduction down to around $2 mil, probably a little bit lower. Maybe they would have lopped off a year of his contract as well. So let's say they said, "alright Tats, we love ya. Heck, just look at Carroll's eyes when he looks at you. They get all Bambi-ish and teary. Its a bit unnerving. But we want you to play this year for $1.8 mil, a 50% decrease."
If I'm Tats, I'm pissssssed. I've given this franchise everything, including both of my knees. But what can I really expect outside of Seattle? Here I've got a coach that believes in me, I'm the unquestioned emotional leader of this defense, the fan support is epic. Out there, I've got a weak linebacker market, maybe the possibility of playing closer to home, and hopefully, just hopefully, a bit more job security in the form of a multi-year deal.
Just the thing is, I don't see any of that happening. I personally doubt Tats gets more than a 1-year deal for $1.5 million.
So why the heck does he ask for his release?
Also, this is my first FanPost after years of faithful lurking. I appreciate any and all participation from the best community on SBNation, FieldGulls. Go HAWWWKS
Edit: I thought it would be appropriate to expand on this free agency period's linebacker signings seeing as Nick Barnett signed a 3-year deal worth $12 million ($6 guaranteed) with the Bills this morning. The more I think about it and watch some film, Barnett would have been a pretty good replacement, fit and ability-wise for Tatupu, although the contract is probably a bit steep for what the FO might be looking to spend.
For reference, here is a list of the current linebackers on the Seahawks roster via nfl.com Obviously Kam is primarily a safety, but with his size I'm sure he figures into Carroll's plans in the box at times as well.
name, experience, ht, wt, college
David Hawthorne - 4 6'0'' 246 - Texas Christian
Aaron Curry - 3 6'2'' 255 - Wake Forest
Leroy Hill - 7 6'1'' 238 - Clemson
Matt McCoy - 7 6'0'' 232 - San Diego State
Dexter Davis - 2 6'1'' 244 - Arizona State
K.J. Wright - 0 6'3'' 246 - Mississippi State
Malcolm Smith - 0 6'1'' 225 - USC
Blake Sorenson - 0 6'1'' 231 - Wisconsin
Mike Morgan - 0 6'3'' 222 - USC
Howey Neal - 0 6'1'' 230 - Eastern Michigan
Jameson Konz - 0 6'3'' 234 - Kent State
Kam Chancellor - 2 6'3'' 232 - Virginia Tech
Significant Free Agent Linebacker Signings 2011:
# in parenthesis guaranteed $ if available
DQwell Jackson, Browns - 1 year, $4.5mil
AJ Hawk, Packers (resign) - 5 years, $35mil (10)
Takeo Spikes, Chargers - 3 years , $9mil
Paul Posluszny, Jaguars - 6 years, $42mil
Stephen Nickolas, Falcons - 5 years, $17.5mil
James Anderson, Panthers - 5 years, $22mil
Clint Session, Jaguars - 5 years, $30mil
Kevin Burnett, Dolphins - 4 years, $21mil (9)
Thomas Howard, Bengals - 2 years, $6.5mil
Barrett Ruud, Titans - 1 year, $4mil
Stephen Tulloch, Lions - 1 year, $3.25mil
Nick Barnett, Bills - 3 years, $12mil
Some players are getting decent money, and there's clearly some head scratchers in there (Session 5/$30 yikes), but I'm surprised Tulloch took so little. There's definitely a chance Lofa could get more than the 1 year, $2mil non guaranteed contract the Seahawks allegedly offered him.
I think Barnett or Tulloch would have been great replacements for Tatupu, but there are still some decent players out there waiting it out. For instance, Ernie Sims is still out there, as well as Kirk Morrison who I like. In addition there are a few vets out there who could likely be signed to fill for an injury, such as Ben Leber or Pisa.
I don't believe the Schneider is very concerned about losing a guy like Will Herring, as we have pretty good depth among our rookies for fast LBs we can put in coverage. However I am concerned about really just having Heater as a guy you can put in the middle and will plug away efficiently.