Asking Tatupu to cut pay worth savings?

RENTON, Wash. -- Seeking pay reductions from proud athletes qualifies as one of the more awkward NFL realities.

TatupuTatupuTeams essentially tell players they no longer value their services as they had at some point in the past, but they would still like that player to stick around and give his very best anyway.

The St. Louis Rams have done this with left guard Jacob Bell, who might remain with the team anyway.

Also this week, the Seattle Seahawks have asked middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu to cut his pay, Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times reports, and that one remains unresolved. Tatupu isn't just another highly paid player left over from the Seahawks' previous regime. He played for Seahawks coach Pete Carroll at USC. His current position coach, Ken Norton Jr., also coached Tatupu in college.

Tatupu, cast as undersized coming out of USC, has long been driven by those who have doubted him. The Seahawks' request, though unsurprising to someone assessing the situation coldly from the outside, comes as a challenge to his pride. I'd expect a quick resolution and would not be surprised if Tatupu turned down the Seahawks' request.

The injuries Tatupu played through last season required surgery to both knees. He's 28 years old and has worn down, but his $4.2 million scheduled base salary for 2011 hardly seems exorbitant by NFL standards for a team with ample salary-cap space. This isn't a situation like the one San Francisco faced with Nate Clements, whose contract was scheduled to count more than $17 million against the cap.

I'm not sure what Seattle would gain if Tatupu declined the reduction and Seattle released him. Tatupu is a leader on defense and a player whose presence has, by all accounts, helped the team get more from fellow linebacker Aaron Curry. He's no longer a Pro Bowl player, but does his salary appear all that exorbitant?