The Atlanta Falcons had a short honeymoon with middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu.
Tatupu, who was signed in April to compete for the starting middle linebacker position left open when Curtis Lofton signed with the New Orleans Saints, suffered a season-ending pectoral injury last week.
Rather than put Tatupu on the injured reserve list, the Falcons have opted to eat the $600,000 guaranteed signing bonus they gave him, and release the former Seattle Seahawks star.
The injury did not occur while Tatupu was at the team’s facility, so the Falcons reached a non-football related injury settlement.
Tatupu, a two-time Pro Bowler, was trying to make a comeback after sitting out the entire 2011 season. This is the second pectoral injury he has suffered in his career.
The first injury occurred in October, 2009, when Tatupu tore his left pectoral muscle after a collision with teammate Deon Grant in a game against the Arizona Cardinals. He was forced to sit out for the rest of the season. That was the first major injury of Tatupu’s career, after missing only one game in his first four NFL seasons.
In 2008 the Seahawks signed Tatupu to a six-year contract extension through the year 2015. The deal – at the time – was worth $42 million, with $18 million guaranteed between 2008 – 2010. That contract made Tatupu one of the six highest-paid linebackers in the league at the time. Tatupu had said when he signed the extension, “I’m going to end my career with the Seahawks.”
It looks like that may actually happen now.