Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard said the decision to waive Brandon Browner spoke more to the improvement of some of the team's other players in the secondary.
Calling players to tell them they are released is the least favorite part of any coach’s job.
For Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard, the one he had to make Sunday was particularly tough.
It was Richard who called founding Legion of Boom member Brandon Browner to tell him he was going to be released by the Seahawks, a move that was made official a day later.
Richard, though, also appreciated the fact that he was least able to tell Browner what he had meant to the franchise. Richard was Seattle’s secondary coach from 2010-14 before becoming defensive coordinator in 2015 and as such was Browner’s specific position coach during his first stint with the team.
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“None of them are ever easy but it was something to where personally I was able to give him the phone call and give him the head’s up,” Richard said Tuesday. “But it was not easy. He’s on the Mount Rushmore of what we have been able to do and what we have been able to build in the secondary exclusively, and on our team overall.’’
As Richard explained it, the decision to move on from Browner had more to do with how other players in the secondary performed this pre-season than anything Browner didn’t do.
The Seahawks were attempting to move Browner from cornerback — where he was a starter from 2011-13 as the Seahawks made their rise under Pete Carroll — to safety as his primary position while also potentially using him in some specific matchups based on opposing team personnel. Browner had basically just played a base safety position in the team’s three preseason games, though.
“He was progressing,’’ Richard said. “He was getting better every day and we just had some guys who were ahead of him, and that was it. Schematically, doing things we were asking him to do, he was coming along. But progressively guys were just in front of him.’’
Most specifically in front of Browner was Kelcie McCray, who has emerged as the backup at both safety spots but whose most experience is at strong safety behind Kam Chancellor, which was also Browner’s primary position.
The Seahawks acquired McCray in a trade last Sept. 5, eight days before the season and he ended up starting three games, two late in the year when Chancellor was injured.
Having now had a full year with the team, McCray’s improvement from last season has been especially noticeable in the preseason, Richard said.
“It’s his first camp with us, is really what it is,’’ Richard said. “He did a fantastic job coming in and buying in and doing what we ask him to do and he’s been able to sort of capture the essence of our defense with his time in the spring, time in camp, rather than kind of being thrown into the fire, which is what he was when he got here. He had just a couple of weeks and he was out there, so he had to learn on the fly. Now he’s been able to learn and figure things out and communicate a little better.’’
The waiving of Browner might also open a door for undrafted free agent Tyvis Powell to make the roster. Powell is one of six safeties who remain the roster — the others are Chancellor, Earl Thomas, McCray, Steven Terrell and Keenan Lambert — with the team potentially keeping as many as five.
As for Browner, Richard says the 32-year-old is hoping to latch on with another team.
“There’s no question,’’ Richard said. “He’s an awesome competitor. You know he wants to keep playing. He worked his butt off in the off-season to prepare himself to play a whole professional football year so I know it’s still in his heart and that he still wants to play.’’