Lofa Tatupu is a 3-time Pro Bowler (2005, 2006, 2007), but his career has been derailed by injuries. He was completely out of football last year, but he was still heading into his age 30 season so the Falcons, needing middle linebacker help after losing Curtis Lofton this offseason, signed him to a low risk contract. The idea was to play Tatupu as a two-down run stuffer and then bring 2011 3rd round pick Akeem Dent in during nickel packages.
That plan has been completely derailed now that Tatupu has torn his pectoral muscle lifting weights. It’s worth noting that this is not the first time he’s injured that area in his career. Tatupu will require surgery and miss the entire season. Rather than placing him on IR, the Falcons have outright cut him, eating 600,000 in guaranteed money in the process. It’s definitely fair to question if Tatupu has played his last snap in the NFL. The market for a 31-year-old who hasn’t played a down in 2 years will not be very big next offseason, especially for not one as injury prone as Tatupu.
For the Falcons, this leaves them even thinner at linebacker, starting the inexperienced Akeem Dent at middle linebacker and the mediocre and injury prone Stephen Nicholas at one of the outside linebacker spots. The Falcons recently re-signed Mike Peterson, who is heading into his age 36 season, for linebacker depth, but he’s no lock to even make the roster at his age.