Atlanta Falcons: Lofa Tatupu agrees to two-year deal

Lofa Tatupu (Associated Press)

Lofa Tatupu (Associated Press)

The Falcons have agreed to terms on a two-year deal with linebacker Lofa Tatupu, 29, a three-time Pro Bowler and one-time All-Pro, on Saturday.

The Falcons worked out Tatupu on Friday. The former Seattle linebacker did not play last season because of injury problems.

The move to sign Tatupu opens the door for Curtis Lofton to leave the team. Lofton, a second round pick in 2008, has been the team’s starting middle linebacker for the last four years.

Lofton racked up 577 tackles, including 387 solos tackles. He had four sacks and three interceptions.

He will compete with second-year man Akeem Dent for the starting spot.

The Falcons could use Dent in running situations and Tatupu on third downs. The Falcons were ranked 29th in the league in third-down defense last season. Tatupu has 10 career interceptions and is considered solid in pass coverage.

Tatupu has a history of knee and concussion problems. He did not play in the league last season reportedly because of his knee problems. He also had visits with the Saints and the Titans.

In 2009, he missed 11 games with a torn pectoral muscle.

 Tatupu, played USC, and was a second round pick (45th overall) in 2005.

Tatupu has amassed 550 tackles with seven forced fumbles.

Tatupu had a DUI arrest in 2008, but despite that arrest, he does not carry a ‘bad guy’ reputation. He was a popular leader during his Seattle’s days.

The market for free agent linebackers shifted heavily this offseason.

San Francisco signed linebacker Ahmad Brooks to a six-year, $44.5 million contract with $17.5 million of it guaranteed, his agent Greg Williams told the Associated Press.

The market was when the Browns have signed linebacker D’Qwell Jackson to a five-year contract worth $42.5 million. A total of $19 million is guaranteed.

So now, here are the top five contracts for inside linebackers:

1. Patrick Willis, San Francisco: seven years, $53.51 million, $29 million guaranteed.

2. Jon Beason, Carolina: six years, $51.3 million, $25 million guaranteed.

3. Jerod Mayo, New England: seven years,$49.85 million, $25 million guaranteed.

4. D’Qwell Jackson, Cleveland: five years, $ 42.5 million, $19.5 million guaranteed.

5. David Harris, New York Jets: four years, $36 million, $29.5 million guaranteed.

The Falcons held talks with Lofton’s representatives in Indianapolis. The talks were termed as amicable, but the team has elected to move in another direction.

Lofton has played 95, 95 and 99 percent of the defensive snaps over the last three years.

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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208 comments Add your comment

BIRDSFLYHIGH

March 10th, 2012
4:24 pm

Great move Falcons & this guy is a three down backer! It was nice while it lasted LOFTON! BIRDSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

cwltank

March 10th, 2012
4:28 pm

Good signing, it was obvious that Lofton was not a top priority.

Big Ron

March 10th, 2012
4:38 pm

This signing tells me the falcons are planning something big I could be wrong but I think something is cooking im sure this is a cheap signing I think were going sign either Nicks or M Williams either way I trust whatever they do.

jerseyfalcon

March 10th, 2012
4:39 pm

He was a third down backer…in 2005-2006. There is a reason why a guy sits out a year from football..INJURIES. Sad to see Lofton go, but hopefully atlanta can pick up a lineback in the 6th round of the draft.

James

March 10th, 2012
4:41 pm

WHY NOT RE-SIGN CURTIS! He is a 3 down LB!

Hope we can give Akeem Dent more time at MLB, he deserves it and I really think he can be a starter in the league.

Mikey

March 10th, 2012
4:42 pm

Lofa Tatupu certainly could be a top notch linebacker… He has had nagging knee and pectoral injuries since 2009. I certainly hope he is healthy once more but presume that the Falcons know what they are doing on that front. This sounds like a big upgrade to me if he is ready to go once more… GO FALCONS!!!

Greg Mendel

March 10th, 2012
4:44 pm

Lofton is a good player, but it looks as if these personnel decisions may be based directly on new schemes and planning. I think TD is in the mood to take calculated risks, which suits me. So far, I don’t think he’s close to spending his allowance. He’s saving that for Tuesday.

Falconfan4life

March 10th, 2012
4:44 pm

Sorry to see Curtis leave, but if it leads to us getting Mario Williams, then I’m in favor.

Truth Teller

March 10th, 2012
4:47 pm

Dent’s job now. Thanks for everything, Curtis.

Sick & Tired Of Being Sick & Tired

March 10th, 2012
4:52 pm

I definitely like the fact that the Falcons’ organization continues to move forward hopefully completing the missing parts without waiting on the start of free agency.

I do believe that some of the current Falcons free agents are going to be surprised when no teams want to sign them for the money that they think they are worth….aka Abraham, Lofton, etc!!!!!! The teams that have big time money to spend are not going to be serious contendors for a championship.

Ryan

March 10th, 2012
4:53 pm

I hate to see Lofton go. He has been a tackling machine and a solid linebacker, plus he’s only 25. He must be asking for too much money. I hope that TD is all in for getting Mario Williams or Carl Nicks. As a long time season ticket holder, I hope that TD continues to have the “All In” mentality that he has shown in getting Julio Jones. We need more playmakers on Defense and our O line needs to improve with Nicks for us to take the next step.

Big Crimson 75

March 10th, 2012
4:55 pm

I don’t think the Falcons were ever re-signing Loftin. Drafting Dent in the 3rd round last year may have been writing on the wall. I like Loftin. The guy was solid, but never spectacular. He’s never going to be a great player in the League. The Falcons gave him every chance to succeed. Time to move on.
Lofa can play — when healthy. He has MUCH more range than Loftin & hits just as hard if not harder.

This sets the Falcons up for a big splash on Tuesday. With Dunta’ re-structuring — you gotta think it’s Super Mario!!

Bluestreak

March 10th, 2012
4:59 pm

Lofa wouldn’t be a bird if he didn’t pass his physical. This is a cost saving move to focus on Williams and/or Nicks

STRETCH

March 10th, 2012
5:00 pm

The Birds or setting up something folks. Dont know what, but they are NOT finished! Thats the difference beteween them and the Braves and Hawks…competent management!

robertussen

March 10th, 2012
5:01 pm

whoops, this better be for depth or just another sign we’re gonna sign mario willams

robertussen

March 10th, 2012
5:01 pm

bring back mike peterson too and let them all duke it out

Ray Bud

March 10th, 2012
5:04 pm

If this is the end of Curtis Lofton as a Falcon, i would like to say thanks…Harry Douglas may be on his way out as well and that means that TD has pretty much got rid of the 2008 class, with the exception of Matty Ice and Sam Baker, who i believe is next to go. I hope TD can put something together that would get us both Carl Nicks and Super Mario

charles

March 10th, 2012
5:07 pm

Big Crimson 75-i really hope you are right!

Big Crimson 75

March 10th, 2012
5:08 pm

Ray bud — excellent post….especially on the service Loftin provided the Falcons. The guy showed up every Sunday & was never a problem off the Field.

I’d actually rather have Mario & Abe instead of Mario & Nicks.

It’s not against any NFL Rule to have more than 1 pass rusher!!

Travis

March 10th, 2012
5:15 pm

I think we’re going to shoot for BOTH Mario and Nicks. That would instantly upgrade both sides of the line of scrimmage and we may sign a LT or draft one but I think we’re going to like what happens this season.

Ray Bud

March 10th, 2012
5:16 pm

@Big Crimson 75….same to you about your post….we know Matty Ice needs to stay up right. For the most part, i think the offense is intact. However, i wouldn’t be against drafting a TE in the second round…Gonzo isn’t getting younger….at the same time, if we can’t land Mario, DE may be the way to go in the draft.

James

March 10th, 2012
5:16 pm

@STRETCH-

I’ll give you the Hawks, but how are the Braves ownership not competent? Lol

Travis

March 10th, 2012
5:17 pm

We are a dominant pass rush, and a good O-line away from being Super Bowl contenders. If the O-line can protect Ryan the way they protect Brees, Brady, etc then Ryan would also have a ring. If our pass rush could get to the QB then we probably beat Green Bay last postseason.

James

March 10th, 2012
5:18 pm

@Big Crimson,

I’m sorry but you saying “Lofton” like “Loftin” is really pissing me off.

The Real Falcon

March 10th, 2012
5:21 pm

Will we be signing anyone who actually played in 2011?
Just asking…

Big Crimson 75

March 10th, 2012
5:21 pm

Draft Zebrie Sanders – OT – FSU – Rd 2
Draft Sean Spence – LB – the U – Rd 3
Draft Deangelo Peterson – TE – LSU – Rd 5
Draft DeQuan Menzie – S/CB – Bama – Rd 6

…..and oh yea — wait to you see Julio after a year in the League !!!!
No one will be crying about not having the 22nd pick in this years draft this time next year!!

day old fries

March 10th, 2012
5:22 pm

seriously…LOFTON

nash

March 10th, 2012
5:23 pm

Lofton is running on bad wheels but I think this move has more to do with Mike Peterson

Big Crimson 75

March 10th, 2012
5:24 pm

Yes Falcon — everyone’s favorite Safety — Thomas DeCoud!!

CAPT-ATL

March 10th, 2012
5:25 pm

So what is it that makes Mario such a cant miss? His sack numbers have declined each year in the league since his high of 14 in 2007. Also total tackles have decreased since then as well. I get it that he was injured last year and was on a 16 sack pace, but he had 2 against the Colts and 2 against Pitt. He had 1 in his other 3 games combined. Granted, he has been double teamed, but so was Abe much of the time. Bottom line, is a pectoral is huge for a strength rusher, and it could easily tear again in camp prior to ONE snap in regular season. Maybe it wont, but is the money that he will demand worth it? A five year deal is gonna garner at least a 30 million gaurantee and much of that in a signing bonus. That ties you up for $6 million a year in CAP hit if he were to tear it again or get hit by a bus crossing the street. I just cant see an upside that offsets the liability. I will pull for him if the Falcons do sign him because I am a Falcon Fan, but it is a heck of a chance to take. Might be easier had his sack totals since 2007 went 8.5 to 9 to 12 to 14, but the fact that they have went 14, 12, 9, 8.5 is troubling IMO

The Real Falcon

March 10th, 2012
5:25 pm

Anyone who feels this guy is as good as Lofton is an idiot. And if it is that move what does that say about TD’s drafts. We are picking players that don;t have longterm futures with the team. Now I see why he gave away all the picks for Julio. He does not know how to pick players. why would Dent be any better when all the draftniks said he was a reach? Can you say Baker?

Big Crimson 75

March 10th, 2012
5:26 pm

SORRY…….Lofton

SawThat1nce

March 10th, 2012
5:27 pm

The Falcons still need to keep on improving the OLine.

mike

March 10th, 2012
5:32 pm

Another bonehead move by Thomas Dmitroff.. this guy (and the ATL sports press) has everyone fooled thinking that he is the smartest GM in football, how many playoff wins do we have in the Smith/Dmitroff era again?

Lofton was playmaker. Horrible move.

Kris G

March 10th, 2012
5:38 pm

Heeeeyyy… This guy’s not from Jacksonville!! Must have been a mistake…

Dan

March 10th, 2012
5:39 pm

The Falcons will get Mario, Crowder and McNeill when he is released from the Chargers and maybe Ted Ginn Wr to return kicks and 3rd wideout. After that I am not suspecting any other big moves and with those moves I would be totally estatic. They wont go after Nicks or Grubbs after signing Manuwai nor would they have the money. Not to be a homer but hope they draft Orson Charles maybe he will drop with his recent DUI to the Falcons and I hope they get Center Ben Jones in the 3rd

47 year Falcon Fanatic

March 10th, 2012
5:42 pm

Lofton was a warrior but had below average coverage skills. I watched him over the years get beat repeatedly in coverage.

Big Crimson 75

March 10th, 2012
5:44 pm

If Lofton was asking for top 5 LB money, then TD made the right call letting him walk. The guy is not a top 5 MLB in the NFL.

Mike L

March 10th, 2012
5:46 pm

@ mike, have to disagree with you my friend. Lofton is a very good MLB but he is not a playmaker. He was like a lot of the other players on this team: very good but they do not make big plays when the moment demands a big play. That is why the team loses playoff games. Lofton is not worth the money he is asking for. TD was very wise to draft Akeem Dent last year. A lot of us, myself included, questioned the Akeem Dent choice. That pick makes a lot of sense now. We are not in a position where we have to overpay for Lofton. Good move by TD. Now go get a pass rusher and another Left Tackle.

Najeh Davenpoop

March 10th, 2012
5:50 pm

Good signing if he’s healthy.

Brian Hunt

March 10th, 2012
5:56 pm

Lofton is a good player, but he plays a position that doesn’t have the value that it once did. The reason he was available after the first round of the draft was because he had a slow 40 time and it showed in pass coverage. Can’t overpay for a two down guy. I like him and wish him the best. I just hope that he doesn’t sign with Tampa.

PN

March 10th, 2012
6:01 pm

“The Birds or setting up something folks. Dont know what, but they are NOT finished! Thats the difference beteween them and the Braves and Hawks…competent management!”

Not sure how the Braves’ management has been incompetent in the least? They had a team that was one of the three best teams in all of baseball going into the last month or so and they just utterly collapsed. What do you propose they do? The deepest starting and relief pitching staffs in all of baseball and a very well balanced line up. Heyward, McCann, Uggla, and Prado certainly wont ALL have career worst years again. Lowe is gone, addition by subtraction. Just a dumb comment.

Steve

March 10th, 2012
6:05 pm

We likely got Tatupu at a 4th of what Lofton is probably wanting folks. And it’s likely a shorter term deal. And for a BETTER player. Both players have some injury concerns, with nagging problems slowing Lofton down.

Lofotn is a good player, but not great, and this is his premium contract age. He is going to be asking for 4-5 years at a price that is more than his worth. Not only that, the Falcons can tender him an offer at what THEY think he is worth and he has no bargaining chip if he wants to stay here because they have his replacements in the fold. He may choose to go elsewhere for more money, but that’s his choice.

Great signing by the Falcons. It will either add depth and keep Lofton’s demands lower, or it will force Lofton out and significantly impact cap numbers over the next 4-5 years.

I will admit I did like Lofton, but we have bigger holes to fill and ‘average’ LB’s are a dime a dozen in the NFL. Playmakers like Tatupu are hard to come by in this league for any amount. I just hope he is healthy enough.

One other thing … Tatupu brings leadership and attitude. I am not certain if Lofton provided those aspects. Only the Falcons coaches and players would know, but those same people in Seattle raved about Tatupu’s leadership openly. Haven’t heard that much from the coaches about Lofton.

Sheffield

March 10th, 2012
6:10 pm

Are yall real fans? I see Lofton get scorched on third down but running back and tight ends…It’s 3rd and 18! BACK UP! GO Falcons #justwanderwhatgamesyallwatch

DEE-ROME

March 10th, 2012
6:13 pm

Just checked this guy out on Youtube,this guy is a beast in pass coverage,and against the run,Thank you Curtis and Good luck

AlanFalcon

March 10th, 2012
6:14 pm

I’m sure that T.D., Smitty and Nolan will rest a lot better now that all of you have expressed your approval or disapproval !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1990_Champs_GT

March 10th, 2012
6:14 pm

Williams and Nicks would be better than a first round pick in my opinion.

Gwinnett Fred

March 10th, 2012
6:15 pm

Clears a little more salary cap room. Sure hope TD is lining up something big, like Super Mario big.

chuck

March 10th, 2012
6:31 pm

Lofton’s asking price didn’t match his abilities so this is for the best. Atlanta HAS to use their top two draft picks and the rest of their available salary cap money on the offensive and defensive lines. They need a possession receiver because Roddy White has butterfingers but that will have to wait.

GDawg

March 10th, 2012
6:39 pm

Nicks and Super Mario will be in black and red next year. TD don’t listen to your far weather fans this was a solid move.