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Lofa Tatupu Released by Seattle, Seahawks Miss out on Trade for Marquee DE

INDIANAPOLIS - OCTOBER 04:  Lofa Tatupu #51 of the the Seattle Seahawks is pictured during the NFL game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on October 4, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Marci NobleAnalyst IJuly 31, 2011

It should surprise no one that Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks front office have been active participants wheeling and dealing in this brief offseason. It all started Tuesday with Seattle announcing contract deals with 19 undrafted rookies.  Seattle followed that up by inking some of their late-round draft picks Friday. 

By the end of the day Friday Seattle had made a big splash in free agency, re-signing Brandon Mebane and Leroy Hill, agreeing to terms with rookie James Carpenter and adding marquee players such as QB Tarvaris Jackson, WR Sidney Rice and OL Robert Gallery.

The latest move made by the Seahawks was the release of Pro Bowl LB Lofa Tatupu Sunday afternoon.  Tatupu, the long-time leader of Seattle’s defense and one of the last remaining members of the Seattle’s 2005 Super Bowl team was asked to restructure his contract, and in turn, he asked to be released from the team. 

Carroll complied but may have missed a golden opportunity.

According to ESPN’s John Clayton, New York Giants’ defensive end Osi Umenyiora expressed interest in a trade to Seattle.  Umenyiora’s contract displeasure has been well publicized throughout the lockout and the disgruntled defensive end even staged a mini-hold out when training camp opened in New Jersey Friday.

Umenyiora, who tallied 11.5 sacks last year is due $8 million over the next two seasons.  He’s reportedly looking for a restructuring that would pay him on par with the highest paid defensive ends in the league. 

The fact is, though, that with Justin Tuck still under contract and Mathias Kiwanuka having re-signed with the Giants, there just isn’t incentive for Coughlin and Mara to pander to Umenyiora’s wishes. 

And, the Giants need linebacker help more than they need more topnotch pass-rushers. 

Prior to his release, Tatupu was due just over $4 million this year—a full million more then Umenyiora is scheduled to earn.  Tatupu’s contract however would have counted $6.1 million towards the cap this year (it will still account for $1.1 million in cap space) so the trade would have saved the team the loss of veteran power plus approximately $2 million.

What about Umenyiora’s demands for more money?  It’s possible that he would be satisfied with a back-loaded contract extension and a series of incentives over the next few years that would allow Carroll the competition-fueled wiggle room he so greatly values.

Plus, the Seahawks haven’t yet re-signed 33-year-old free agent Raheem Brock.  They’ll need a quality compliment to Chris Clemons (11 sacks in regular season play last year) and 29-year-old Umenyiora would be a beastly option.

There’s still nothing that suggests Seattle won’t at least take a look as the Giants’ unhappy training camper, but Tatupu could have been valuable trade fodder and could have saved the Seahawks valuable draft picks.

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