And while the emergence of Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner bodes well for the Seahawks future, it also cleared the way for the team to part with a big part of its past. Marcus Trufant, a Tacoma native who was Seattle's first-round pick in 2003, was released Wednesday, the team announced.
The move hardly comes as a surprise given the play of Sherman and Browner last season. Browner, who spent the previous four years in the Canadian Football League, won a starting job in training camp and ended up a Pro Bowler in his first NFL season, and Sherman, a fifth-round pick in last year's draft, showed tremendous potential after taking over a starting role midseason following injuries to Trufant and Walter Thurmond.
Trufant, meanwhile was scheduled to make $7.2 million next season and $8.8 million in 2013, and because of the emergence of Browner and Sherman, he was almost certainly not going to have a starting role on the team in 2012.
"Out of respect for Marcus and his family, we've decided to release him today so that he has an opportunity to explore the full window of unrestricted free agency and the options that go along with it," general manager John Schneider said in a press release. "Marcus has done so much for this organization, but because of the changing landscape of the NFL, tough decisions have to be made and this is the correct thing to do at this time."
Trufant, 31, missed only two starts in his first six seasons, and was an integral part of Seattle's 2005 Super Bowl team. He began the 2010 season on the physically unable to perform list, however, because of a back injury, then after starting all 16 games in 2010, landed on injured reserve after just four games last season because of another back injury.
His release has more to do with the emergence of young players than it does Seattle's opinion of Trufant.
Healthy, Trufant can still be an effective cornerback in the NFL, and there will be a market for his services, but with Browner and Sherman locked up in relatively cheap contracts, and Thurmond and Byron Maxwell, a sixth-round pick last year, waiting in the wings, the Seahawks could afford to part ways with Trufant, clearing $4.46 million in cap space, according to Brian McIntyre of Mac's Football Blog.
Prior to his release, Trufant was Seattle's longest tenured player and, along with linebacker Leroy Hill, who is a free agent, one of two players remaining from the team that played in Super Bowl XL.
Receiver Ben Obomanu, a 2006 draft pick, is now the longest tenured player under contract for 2012 on a roster that has undergone a massive overhaul since Pete Carroll and Schneider took over following the 2009 season.
Trufant, the 11th overall pick in the 2003 draft out of Washington State, immediately won a starting job as a rookie and over a nine-year career started 123 games while accumulating 21 interceptions and 610 tackles. In 2007, he had a career-high seven interceptions and was elected to the Pro Bowl.
While this move was made largely for financial reasons, people should tie Trufant's release to that of longtime Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, who was also released Wednesday.
The Seahawks are believed to be interested in Manning--several reports have linked Seattle to the quarterback, including the NFL Network's Albert Breer saying Seattle plans to reach out to Manning once he clears waivers.
But Trufant's release or a contract restructuring was coming regardless of who else the team might be pursuing.
Herald Writer John Boyle: email@example.com.
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