The way Pete Carroll explains it, Lofa Tatupu and the Seattle Seahawks are on the same page.
The Seahawks asked the three-time Pro Bowl player and defensive captain to take a pay cut; Tatupu declined and asked for his release.
And on Sunday the team obliged and waived Tatupu, making the 28-year-old a free agent and ending his six-year tenure in Seattle.
“He’s a great kid, a great guy and an unbelievable competitor,” Carroll said. “And we came to an understanding that this is a good thing, and so on we go. And we keep moving.
“And so we wish him the very best, and we’ll see where it goes. And we’ll probably wind up knocking heads together soon.”
Though Carroll tried, he never really answered why it was a good thing that one of the vocal leaders on a young team was moving on, other than to say it’s part of the business.
“We really feel comfortable with saying that it was mutual agreement of how to deal with it with his career and our situation and all of that,” Carroll said about Tatupu being released. “This is a professional sport.
“It’s always business. There’s always business involved in every decision that you make and there’s no decision in personnel that isn’t affected one way or the other in that regard.”
David Hawthorne is likely to take over for Tatupu at middle linebacker, with Leroy Hill in line for a chance to regain his starting position at outside linebacker.
Hawthorne, 26, has become one of the most productive players on Seattle’s defense, leading the team in tackles the past two years.
He started 11 games at middle linebacker in 2009 after Tatupu was sidelined by a torn pectoral muscle.
“I’m definitely comfortable there,” Hawthorne said. “I’ve done it. I did it last year some games, and I did it for a whole year my first two years out here. So it’s not a foreign language like moving from middle to outside.”
Hill said he talked with Tatupu on Saturday as the veteran mulled over his decision.
Hill was in a similar situation last year, with the team asking him to restructure the six-year, $38 million deal he signed two years ago and take a slimmed-down a one-year, $2 million deal last season after dealing with a series of off-the-field issues
“We talked for a little while last night, or actually earlier in the day,” Hill said. “We actually talked sort of all yesterday, off and on. I’ve been through it and it’s tough. It’s a tough decision to make, and he made his decision, and like I said, you just move on.”
The release of Tatupu is part of Seattle’s continued effort to make the roster younger. Only 16 players remain from the roster Carroll and general manager John Schneider inherited when they took over the team after the 2009 season.
The turnover has resulted in a much younger projected starting unit on both sides of the ball for the upcoming season.
At the end of the 2010 season, the average age of the 22 starting players was 27.9. For this season’s projected starters, the average age is 25.8.
So it will be up to veterans such as cornerback Marcus Trufant, 30, to step up and provide more leadership in Tatupu’s absence.
“I think it’s a combination of things,” Trufant said. “You don’t want to be outside of yourself. As far as for me, I lead by example. I’m not a guy that’s going to stand up in front of the team and give a long speech and all that kind of stuff.
“So I’m just going to go about my business, work hard and hope people follow suit.”
Trufant also could become the target of a Seahawks front office looking to cut more salary. He’s due to make $5.9 million in base salary this season, and he has three years and $21.9 million remaining on his deal.
However, the Seahawks have no plans to ask Trufant to take a pay cut, although he understands the tough decisions Tatupu, Hill and others have had to face.
“You just know that’s part of the game,” Trufant said. “And eventually something like that is going to happen. But you’ve just got to be ready for it mentally, and be able to be strong and move on.”
The Seahawks signed free agent defensive end Ryan Sims on Sunday. At 6-foot-4, 315 pounds, Sims played six games for the Tampa Bay last season, including one start, and likely projects as a backup to Red Bryant at defensive end. Sims was selected by Kansas City as the sixth overall pick in the 2002 draft out of North Carolina. He spent five seasons with the Chiefs. Sims then played in Tampa Bay from 2007 to 2010. Walter Thurmond (sprained ankle) and Mike Williams (leg strain) sat out practice Sunday. Trufant’s younger brother Isaiah is part of the Philadelphia Eagles’ 90-man roster, competing for a job as a cornerback. Isaiah Trufant was signed by the New York Jets late last season and waived at the end of the season, with the Eagles claiming him off waivers and signing him to a futures contract. “I’ve been talking to him off and on,” Marcus Trufant said. “He’s doing good out there. He’s holding his own and trying to make it happen.”