Trufant returns to Seahawks

SEATTLE — Marcus Trufant was a Seattle Seahawk for nine seasons, then a free agent for a month.

On Monday, just over a month after they released Trufant, the Seahawks announced they have agreed to terms on a one-year deal with veteran cornerback that will bring him back to Seattle for a 10th season.

Trufant, 31, was released last month in a move that was made largely for financial reasons. Trufant missed 12 games last season with a bruised sacrum, and in 2009 he struggled with a separate back injury. In his absence, Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner both showed considerable potential at cornerback, meaning there likely won’t be a starting role for Trufant in 2012 even if he is healthy. Considering the fact that Trufant was due to make $7.2 million next season and $8.8 million in 2013, his March 7 release came as little surprise.

At the time of his release, general manager John Schneider said in a statement that the team was releasing Trufant to allow him to explore free agency. He made a visit to Denver, but it in the end the Tacoma native and former Washington State standout decided to return to the only NFL team he has known since coming to Seattle as first-round pick in 2003.

Trufant, who made the Pro Bowl in 2007, is Seattle’s longest tenured player, and if free agent linebacker Leroy Hill is not re-signed, Trufant will be the only remaining member of Seattle’s Super Bowl XL team. His 21 interceptions rank fifth in franchise history, and through his first six seasons, Trufant missed just two starts. In 2009, however, Trufant missed the first six games of the season while on the physically unable to perform list because of a back injury. He returned to play the final 10 games that season but was clearly not the same player he was prior to the injury. Trufant bounced back with a solid 2010, starting all 16 games, but played four games in 2011 before landing on injured reserve.

Exactly what role Trufant will have in 2012 remains to be seen. Sherman will likely remain the starter at left cornerback, while Browner was a Pro Bowler on the other side, and both are the bigger, more physical corners that head coach Pete Carroll and Schneider prefer. Walter Thurmond, who projects as the team’s long-term answer as the nickel back, might not be ready for the start of the season after breaking his leg last season, so Trufant could find a role there. In addition to providing depth, Trufant gives the Seahawks a veteran presence in an otherwise very young secondary.

Herald Writer John Boyle:

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