By John Boyle Herald Writer
Brandon Browner might not play for the Seattle Seahawks in 2014, but he’ll be eligible to play in the NFL.
Browner, suspended indefinitely by the NFL in December for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, announced Tuesday on Twitter that he has been reinstated by the league. That means the cornerback will become an unrestricted free agent on March 11 instead of wait- ing until Decem- ber to apply for reinstatement.
“I received wonderful news today,” Browner wrote. “The NFL has reinstated me, and I now have the opportunity to prove to the fans and my teammates how important this sport is to me. I realize now more than ever that being part of the NFL is not a right, but a privilege.
“I am grateful that Commissioner (Roger) Goodell and my agent (Peter Schaffer) were able to resolve this issue in a positive, productive manner so I can continue my career, provide for my family, and help my team win a Super Bowl. Thank you to all who have gone out of their way to show their support. I will live up to your expectations of me.”
The surprising news comes less than a week after Browner’s agent, Peter Schaffer, made it known that his client planned to sue the NFL if he were not reinstated. Browner was suspended for testing positive for marijuana according to Schaffer, but Browner’s camp contended that the indefinite ban was too extreme because the cornerback was only that far into the league’s drug program because he missed tests he was unaware of while playing in the Canadian Football League.
The league has not yet commented on Browner’s status, and Schaffer did not return a message from The Herald.
George Atallah, the Assistant Executive Director of External Affairs for the NFL Players Association said via Twitter, “The NFLPA worked closely with Brandon Browner, his representatives and the NFL to find a resolution to his reinstatement.”
Browner, who signed with the Seahawks in 2011 and went on to earn Pro Bowl honors in his first season, briefly spent time with the Denver Broncos as an undrafted rookie and ended up in the league’s drug program then, which meant he was subjected to subsequent testing. Unbeknownst to Browner, that meant testing even after he couldn’t find work in the NFL and was playing in Canada. Browner also was suspended in 2012 for four games for a violation of the league’s performance enhancing drug policy, but PED suspensions and substance abuse suspensions are unrelated in terms of league punishment.
The timing of this news is big for Browner, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent next week. Browner, who turns 30 this summer, might not be headed for a big payday given his age and past suspensions, but despite the red flags, he is one of the best cornerbacks available in free agency, and the Seahawks championship season, which in part was built on strong secondary play, should also help strengthen the market for Browner. The Seahawks could theoretically try to bring Browner back if the price was right, but Byron Maxwell played so well in Browner’s absence, the former sixth-round pick might keep that starting job in 2014 whether Browner is around or not.
What also could affect Browner’s free agency is how exactly he and the league came to resolution in his case. Details of Browner’s reinstatement had not come to light as of Tuesday evening, but it’s entirely possible that Browner was reinstated while agreeing to a shorter suspension. If Browner had to sit out, say, four games to start the year, his value would obviously decrease significantly.
Seahawks place second-round tender on Johnson
The Seahawks have placed a second-round tender on safety Jeron Johnson, who is set to become a restricted free agent, according to Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports 1. The move comes as somewhat of a surprise, because the second-round tender, if signed, means Johnson would make $2.187 million in 2014, a lot of money for a backup safety.
Then again, tendering Johnson doesn’t mean he’ll get that money in 2014. The Seahawks tendered safety Chris Maragos, long snapper Clint Gresham and defensive tackle Clint McDonald last year, then eventually got each player to re-sign later at a lower price, though McDonald was released before eventually returning.
It’s likely the Seahawks tendered Johnson because they believe there would be interest in somebody from their secondary if left unprotected, and on the off chances somebody wanted Johnson badly enough, a second-round pick is good compensation for a backup should the Seahawks decide to not match that offer.
The most notable restricted free agent on Seattle’s roster is receiver Doug Baldwin, and the Seahawks might very well place a first-round tender on him if they can’t soon agree to a long-term deal, which would pay $3.113 million in 2014.
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.