The Seattle Seahawks — and their fans — may have seen the last of cornerback Marcus Trufant, the team’s No. 1 draft choice in 2003 and one of just a handful of players to survive an amazing roster churn since GM John Schneider and Pete Carroll assumed command of the franchise in 2010.
The Seahawks have announced that Trufant, the longest-tenured Seahawk and a member of Seattle’s 2005 Super Bowl team, has been placed on injured reserve, a victim of an injury to his lower back.
“We’re just really disappointed for him,” said Carroll.
Trufant’s injury, similar to the one that sidelined him for the first six games of the 2009 season, surfaced prior to Seattle’s game against the New York Giants Oct. 9. It bothered him sufficiently that Trufant did not play. According to team officials, Trufant will not require surgery. Instead, he will try rehabilitation.
To take the roster spot, the Seahawks signed defensive tackle Jason Shirley, a fifth-round draft choice by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2008 out of Fresno State. Shirley has appeared in three NFL games, all in 2008, and has recorded four tackles, including two solo.
In an unrelated move, the Seahawks added linebacker Stephen Franklin to take the roster spot left vacant by Aaron Curry’s trade to the Oakland Raiders (Curry was the club’s first-round draft pick in 2009, selected fourth overall. He had two tackles in his Raiders debut last Sunday).
Trufant was in his ninth season with the Seahawks. He played in 124 games (123 starts) and recorded 604 tackles (533 solo). Trufant ranks fifth in franchise history with 21 career interceptions. This season, Trufant played in four games, registering 23 tackles (20 solo) and one interception (Sept. 25 vs. Arizona).
Walter Thurmond will now become the starting left cornerback.
The injury calls into question whether Trufant, a Tacoma native and former star at Washington State University, will ever play for the Seahawks again. A defensive captain, the 30-year-old Trufant has two years remaining on his contract after 2011, but he accepted a reduction in salary in order to stay with the Seahawks this season.
Curry also accepted a reduction, setting up his trade last week to the Raiders.
With Trufant out, only eight players on the 53-man roster remain from the team Carroll and Schneider inherited: punter Jon Ryan, running back Justin Forsett, center Max Unger, defensive end Red Bryant, nose tackle Brandon Mebane, wide receiver Ben Obomanu and linebackers Leroy Hill and David Hawthorne.
Trufant’s absence also means that the Seahawks now feature five No. 1 picks in their starting lineup — three of their own (tackles Russell Okung and James Carpenter and safety Earl Thomas) and two that they acquired either via trade or free agency (RB Marshawn Lynch and WR Mike Williams).
The 2005 Seahawks team that played in Super Bowl XL had nine No. 1 picks in its starting lineup.
Carroll Monday did not address the issue of whether Trufant would return to the Seahawks, saying only, “We’re just trying to get through the shock of what this is.”
What this is could very well be the end of the line for Trufant as a professional player — at least for the Seahawks, who, after a bye week, are preparing to take on the Cleveland Browns on Sunday in Cleveland.
The Seahawks will enter their 10 a.m. game against the Browns, who are run by former Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren, with a 2-3 record and coming off a 36-25 triumph over the Giants Oct. 9.