RENTON, Wash. -- A few thoughts after Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll addressed reporters following practice Sunday:
Lofa Tatupu fallout: Carroll spent the bulk of his post-practice news conference fielding questions about Lofa Tatupu's release following six seasons with the team. Carroll kept saying the move was best for all parties, but he did not offer examples when asked how the move made Seattle better. Tatupu refused a cut in pay. Carroll's contract gives him control of the roster, so he could have kept the linebacker around. The two were together at USC. But with the Seahawks implementing a youth movement, the team was comfortable parting with Tatupu after the three-time Pro Bowl choice declined to slash his scheduled $4.35 million salary. That is the simple part. I found the rest harder to comprehend.
Reading between lines: Carroll repeatedly cast Tatupu's release as a mutual decision and as a win-win, as though the parties had gotten together over dinner to plot out ways to help improve each other's lives, with Tatupu deciding that, come to think of it, he needed to reduce his pay or be fired. Carroll: "Because this was a decision that we agreed to, I support him. I support him in this. We helped him in this regard and he helped us. It's a mutual agreement that we made that we both feel good about." It's tough to imagine any person in any field of work feeling good about losing his job after refusing a pay cut. But in casting this as a "mutual" decision -- Tatupu deciding it was time to move on -- Carroll avoided declaring publicly that Tatupu had declined as a player.
More on the linebackers: David Hawthorne takes over at middle linebacker for Seattle, with Leroy Hill the favorite at weakside linebacker, the position Hawthorne played previously. Aaron Curry remains at strongside linebacker. Hill and other players with new contracts cannot practice until Aug. 4 at the earliest. Rookie seventh-round choice Malcolm Smith is practicing at weakside linebacker while Hill watches. Hill said he spoke extensively with Tatupu, his fellow 2005 Seahawks draft class member. Hill: "I've been through it [taking a pay cut] and it's tough. It's a tough decision to make and you know he made his decision and you got to respect him for his decision and move on."
The bottom line? The Seahawks are getting younger, Tatupu has declined in their eyes and his salary was higher than the team wanted to pay. Sure, Tatupu could have stuck around, but only on the team's terms. There's nothing mutual about that.