Marcus Trufant had the unique experience of playing nine seasons for his hometown team, the Seattle Sea-hawks.
But all good things come to an end, and for the Tacoma native that happened on Wednesday, with the Seahawks announcing the release of the longest-tenured player on the team.
“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,” Seattle general manager John Schneider said in a statement. “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.”
The move makes Trufant an unrestricted free agent who may sign with any team. It also gives Trufant, who reportedly still wants to play, a chance to test the market before free agency officially begins on Tuesday.
Selected No. 11 overall by Seattle in the 2003 draft, the Wilson High and Washington State product played in 124 career games for Seattle. He made 21 career interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns. Trufant was selected to the Pro Bowl for his performance in 2007.
Trufant, 31, was placed on the season-ending injured reserve with a bruised sacrum after four games last season. He has had back injuries since 2009.
Financial considerations were part of the move by Seattle. Trufant was due to make $7.2 million in base salary in 2012, along with a $100,000 workout bonus. The Seahawks saved $4.46 million in salary cap space and freed up $7.3 million in cash toward the new league year by releasing him now, said cap specialist Brian McIntyre of Football Outsiders.
And with Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman both playing well in their first season as the starting cornerback tandem for Seattle, the Sea-hawks had little motivation to bring back Trufant.
Trufant had two years remaining on his deal with the Seahawks, who asked Trufant to restructure his contract before the 2011 season. He took a pay cut from $5.9 million to $3 million in base salary last year, although he could have earned most of the money back in incentives.
During the 2011 season, Trufant said the possibility of being released from a team roster is something players have to accept.
“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.”
With Trufant off the roster, Seahawks defensive tackle Brandon Mebane is one of the longest-tenured members of the team. He spoke glowingly about his former teammate.
Mebane said he remembered watching Trufant play for the Cougars while in high school in Los Angeles, and being surprised to see him on Seattle’s roster when he joined the team in 2006.
“One of my favorite plays is when he caught the interception against Washington,” Mebane said about Trufant’s 78-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Redskins in the 2007 NFC playoffs. “I had one of the blocks at the end that got him into the end zone.
“Trufant is a good dude. He was one of the leaders on this team, and he’s going to be missed. He’s very positive. And whatever locker room or whatever team he goes to, players are going to truly like him, and be glad that he’s a part of their team.”