FLOWERY BRANCH — Lofa Tatupu started to believe his career was over as he spent the 2011 season away football.
Following his release from the Seattle Seahawks before last season, Tatupu said his only chances with other teams were as an outside linebacker. Tatupu, a three-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker with Seattle, wasn't looking to change positions.
When he realized he wasn't going to play last season he began to lose hope and considered filing his retirement papers.
"At a certain point I just stopped working out," Tatupu said Tuesday. "I thought it was over. I was really ready to send those papers in."
A call this year from Tatupu's agent, Fletcher Smith, changed the linebacker's outlook.
"He called me and said 'Do you want to go play?'" Tatupu said. "I said absolutely. He told me the options and I said 'Yes, I'm going to go work out right now.'"
One of those options was the Atlanta Falcons, who need help at the position after Curtis Lofton signed with the Saints.
Tatupu, 29, opened minicamp with the Falcons on Tuesday, competing with Akeem Dent for the starting job and relishing the rebirth of his career.
"I'm excited about the whole process and just being back playing ball again," Tatupu said.
Tatupu signed a two-year, $3.6 million contract with Atlanta.