Why it makes sense to keep Browner on-side

Depending on his appeal, could Brandon Browner stick in Seattle?

According to Mike Garafolo, Brandon Browner had his hearing over a one-year suspension today. He is appealing the decision.

Now it’s a waiting game.

Details are sparse on this case, and I don’t see the value in speculating. All we know is this recent suspension isn’t a PED issue, it’s substance abuse.

When this story broke Mike Silver suggested the Seahawks were done with Browner. He was finished in Seattle.

That may well prove to be true.

Or maybe not.

Think of it this way. There’s no definite date set for a decision to be made on Browner’s appeal. The substance abuse policy says a decision must be reached within a ‘reasonable time’.

Pete Carroll has talked this week about giving players a second chance.

There’s a supportive vibe there. The message is more about support for both Browner and Walter Thurmond (also serving a suspension). Both players would be allowed in the facility. They weren’t going to relinquish responsibility and simply move on.

So what if Browner’s appeal is successful?

By supporting the player, perhaps they hope such loyalty pays off. It’s maybe a cynical way of viewing things, but the NFL is a business. The Seahawks have to treat it as such.

A cornerback who turns 30 before the 2014 season probably couldn’t expect mega-bucks in free agency anyway. All the controversy and reporting on this recent suspension won’t help.

The risk of further suspensions will also add to a major decrease in value.

Back a player through a bad patch and you might be able to get another year or two at a heavily discounted price.

If his appeal is successful. If.

Thurmond is in a similar position. He’ll see his value suffer a hit because of his four game suspension. Yet what benefit is there in burning bridges with a guy who, in fairness, has played well this year?

The Seahawks appear to be a very close locker room. Keeping things that way won’t hurt when they go into the negotiating room. That will ring true with both Browner and Thurmond — who is also a free agent in 2014.

Alternatively you could argue they don’t deserve any support. Silver’s words might prove true. If Browner is suspended that decision is made for the team. If he’s cleared, why wouldn’t you consider a new contract? At the right price?

In Thurmond’s case, it could be argued he’s risked the success of the team with what may or may not be a selfish act. Again, we don’t have the necessary details to make that kind of judgement. We can only really speculate.

I’ll say it again, the NFL is a business. Browner and Thurmond — re-signed at a substantial discount — helps Seattle.

There’s no lack of detail there. That’s a fact.

With cap issues on the horizon next year, nothing can be ruled out. Everything should remain on the table. Including Browner and Thurmond signing new deals.

It’s also worth noting — there aren’t any obvious ‘Seahawks’ corners in this draft. I can’t think of a single one currently being touted as an early pick. But 6-4 corners with Browner’s speed aren’t very common.

And one final note on this — keep an eye on Byron Maxwell’s performance over the next few weeks. He has the talent. He can make this a moot point by claiming this job for himself. That’s what true competion is all about.

Remember — Richard Sherman didn’t walk into the team. He only got a chance to start when Thurmond was injured in 2011. This feels like a big opportunity for Maxwell.


  1. CC

    Not sure how I feel about keeping Browner around, but I’ll leave that to others. I was happy to see Cox released as his conduct, while being found not guilty, made my skin crawl. Maxwell is quick and has played pretty well – Lane has had some good moments as well, but I’m a bit more concerned about him. Also looking forward to see if Shead can come in and play. He is a former decathlete – another one of these guys with special skills. Last year during the suspensions, our offense played big – I’m expecting them to do the same this year!

    • CD

      My 1 big reason for keeping BB around is thinking back to the Redskins game last year, he knocked the crap out of those WR and got into their heads. That is what I will miss the most if he is not back. I don’t see Max or Lane playing that style and I think we need it in the playoffs.

      I will take a coulpe of PI calls from time to time, for a replay of BB suplesing some WR.

      You have Kam with is hard hitting rep, Earl is a head first rocket, Sherm one of the best, then BB who will win any street fight. They are already in the heads of the WR before the game starts. Max/Lane, I don’t think so.

      • jessiethe3rd

        You know though it’s not about knocking someones head off at the CB position. It’s about finesse, poise to defeat, and attacking at the line of scrimmage for route interruption. BB is great on the press but lacked the skill to maintain speed to keep up with the faster WRs. He is great on pass defense but not that great on route following. You have to admit, unfortunately as well, as much as he forces D to respect him he has had a lot of flags that have caused some painful situation.

        All in all though I would like to keep BB for one reason the most, however. To show the league, and the fans, we take care of our own. We give people second chances, and we know that people can rise to the occasion. For business… he loses out on the money he COULD have gotten but it will test his own heart for this game because then he’s got to perform for something bigger. I think he’s up for the task should he gets the suspension reduced to 4-6 games.

        • CD

          I disagree, I think being physical helps at the CB position and can be as (or more) important than the points you mention. Also, you are putting words in my mouth, I didn’t say that’s all that is needed at the CB position.

  2. steve

    I guess it comes down to what sort of environment you want. One where everyone is entitled to repeated chances or one where “team” comes first.

    I don’t disagree with your premise Rob, be nice to have both Browner and Thurmond back, but at some point I believe there has to be repercussions to those individuals who act selfishly and jeopardize what’s best for the team.

    That said, its a great opportunity for Bryon Maxwell, so let’s hope he steps up.

  3. Attyla the Hawk

    I’m confused where the ‘one year ban’ came from.

    I’ve read the NFL policy on Substances of Abuse, and the paths/punishments seem to be pretty unambiguous.

    For Browner to be facing a 12 month ban from the league, then he would have necessarily had to have failed to comply on two separate occasions as a stage 2 participant in the program. Each of those failures would have public facing evidence.

    The first would have been a 4 game suspension. The second offense would have merited a 6 game suspension.

    I don’t see any indication of those stage 2 disciplines. Certainly not in the last 24 months. After which time his participation in the program will have ended.

    • Rob Staton

      There’s pretty much zero clarity on what the heck is going on with this situation. Nobody has got down to the bottom of it.

      And as fans we’re kind of just sitting here wondering what might be the conclusion to this bizarre situation.

      • Hawkspur

        I heard that he entered the program whilst in Denver at the start of his career, was subsequently released, but unbeknownst to him, was still required to be tested. Having been waived and not picked up by another team, he hadn’t thought it necessary to notify the the league of his movements, leading to missed tests, putting him into phase 2.

        I have no idea how accurate any of that is, or how it factors in bans served of not served, but that’s what I heard was the basis for his appeal.

        • Hawkspur

          Further more, I think this may be his first failed test, or failing that, his second. He should have a reasonable chance of winning his appeal (to some degree), unless the PED suspension is held against him.

          • Michael M.

            From everything I’ve ever heard (as a fan only), PED issues and other substance abuse issues are absolutely separate in every way.

    • Chris

      Apparently while in the CFL he was still required to undergo some testing if he planned to play again in the NFL.

      Mike Florio was speculating that he missed testing while in the CFL, which brought him up to Stage 3.

  4. Colin

    He’s now done something worthy of being suspended in consecutive year. If you resign him you have to be willing to chance he’s going to be suspended a 3rd time. Are you willing to chance that he won’t? Are you okay with paying a guy who might potentially not be with you the whole season? All interesting questions.

    • Michael M.

      As far as pay goes, I believe a suspended player’s game checks are forfeit for the entire duration of the suspension. If that is accurate, at lease you’re only paying for the time he is eligible to play.

      • Colin

        That’s not the point though. The Seahawks should not be giving contracts to guys who can’t stay on the field.

        • Michael M.

          That statement simply doesn’t make sense. I can’t think of a single team that has had 53 players play all 16 games. Teams are made up of plenty of guys that, “can’t stay on the field”. The mistake comes when organizations fail to price that into the contract. Brandon Browner still has value as a football player, so it’s simply a question of how little you can pay him, and finding a place where value and salary intersect. Are you honestly saying that you wouldn’t want Browner back even if it were at the league minimum salary?

          • Colin

            Of course you’d keep him at league minimum. But I don’t think that’s going to happen. Someone will want him. I don’t think he’s worth paying a million (or more) per season, and if he can’t stop with the suspensions, you’re just making it harder to keep other players who are better and can actually stay on the field.

  5. Jim Q

    Seems like this is indeed a league wide problem and a few of the Seahawk violation should have an * after their names. Some interesting stuff here…………

  6. Jeremy

    Rob, by far your articles are my favorite. I wish you would write 10 pages a day on this siteā€¦I would just soak it all in. I agree 100% here. If Maxwell cements himself opposite Sherman, Browner still adds value in special teams, and a proven backup. I think this FO would be smart enough to get creative with BB and Thurmond, offering some kind of incentive based deals.

    I wonder how many of these guys really want to play elsewhere. I could easily see some of the bigger contracts getting restructured to keep the younger talent here. Maybe I’m just dreaming here, but this will be a tough offseason, especially after they win it all.

  7. UKhawk

    Totally agreed on Maxwell. He’s a bigger CB, very physical, can cover and is 2yrs removed from free agency. He is Mr Next Man up and could be the eventual starter. Most importantly he needs game time and when better than pre-playoffs, leading division by 3 games, and having some good match ups to finish out

  8. Phil

    There is so much “fog” around this story. As others have said, suppose that BB’s pending suspension is based, in part, on his not knowing that he was still supposed to be tested after leaving the NFL. It’s hard for me to believe that the league, or the union, would not make it absolutely clear what a former player’s obligations are in these instances. And, when BB was signed by the Seahawks, didn’t they know what the testing regimen was and didn’t they question both BB and the league as to whether or not BB had complied with all the required testing? I guess that the player could plead ignorance, but how far is that argument going to go?

    At this point ,we just have to let the system work. And, whatever the outcome, the team has to deal with all of the distractions.

    • jessiethe3rd

      If you think these distractions are a lot (and yes they internally will be tested,) just think about how most much stressful it is if they win this game. Their star power has been raising by quite a bit. It will interesting to see how they handle the adversity.

      I agree with you on the situation. He may or may not get off on the technicality.

      In this whole process though, I have reframmed from judging. I do, however, judge the NFL quite harshly on these circumstances. Not so much the NFLPA or the CBA rules and union, but more so, how the NFL handled the story to begin with. That I do judge because you have a group of people who worked together to find information about an NFL players status on a suspension case and a.) give misinformation about PEDs, b.) state the Seahawks were ready to move away from BB, and c.) used “sources” to find information about the proceedings when the league already fines teams $500,000 if they say a word about these types of things. Mind you, this is the NFL.com’s Michael Silver and his investigative reporting on the NFL… as an employee OF the NFL.

  9. Kenny Sloth

    Rob, I kind of disagree with only your positing that there are no Seahawks corners in this draft. B.J. Lowery isn’t as tall as we like, but he’s crazy physical, looks to have long arms and big hands, and is a savage in run-support. Stanley Jean-Baptiste has the size we want, but he’s kind of fallen out of favor with me. Doesn’t really use his size to his advantage.

    I don’t think we can really rule out many prospects until we get their measurables at the combine.

    • Rob Staton

      In fairness Kenny I only said there aren’t any obvious early round options.

      • Kenny Sloth

        So you did. Excuse me.

        Two interesting prospects, nonetheless.

        • Rob Staton

          I’ll see if I can find some tape on them.

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