The Seahawks were thought to be interested in White's services for two reasons — new head coach Pete Carroll coached White at USC, and they lack a goal-line back or a bruising first-down back on the roster.
Despite the cast that White slimmed down to 220 pounds and was in the best shape of his football career, there were rumblings within the front office that White, who ran for 2,349 yards and 24 touchdowns in four seasons with the Titans, wasn't performing to the level expected by Carroll and general manager John Schneider. Schneider expressed the reason for the release like so: "It became apparent at this time that LenDale was not ready to be a member of the Seahawks. It just did not appear to be the right fit at this point in our program. We wish LenDale all the best with his future."
What we then learned, per Jason La Canfora of the NFL Network, was that White is facing a four-game suspension for a violation of the NFL's substance-abuse policy. No further details were available. According to La Canfora, the Seahawks were aware of White's possible suspension when they traded for him, and that was not the reason he was cut.
It's possible that the Seahawks hoped and expected that White would become a part of the team only to be disappointed and surprised by his work ethic. I would maintain that it's also possible that this move, coming as early in the preseason process as it does, is as much about sending a message to the team, media and fans about the New Pete Carroll as anything else.
Carroll is a self-aware guy and always has been — few coaches at any level are as astute when it comes to public perceptions — and he had to know the reputation that followed him back into the NFL from his decade at USC. A player's coach, a bit of a milquetoast, a guy that professional veterans wouldn't take seriously. But in cutting a player that he not only coached in college but also dealt for in his first draft back in the NFL, Carroll's telling the world that nobody, including the coach himself, is on scholarship. He has to get his new team to buy in, and this is one way to go.
As for White, who's always been up against it from a commitment perspective, this is a major blow. When the coach who benefited from your collegiate production casts you aside, that sends a very strong message to the rest of the league.