The contract, signed Saturday afternoon, solidifies a key spot on the offensive line and makes Brown the 10th-highest paid left tackle in the NFL at an average of $11.56 million per season.
While free safety Earl Thomas remains a holdout, the Seahawks on Saturday got one significant veteran under contract for three more years — left tackle Duane Brown. It’s move the team hopes will solidify an offensive line that has been regarded as its biggest weakness in recent seasons.
Brown, who turns 33 next month, had one year remaining on a deal the Seahawks inherited when they acquired him from Houston last October. The Seahawks acquired Brown after he held out last year in hopes of a new contract from the Texans. He returned to play one game — against the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field — before being dealt.
Brown was due to make $9.75 million in 2018. Pro Football Talk reported that the deal — which he signed Saturday afternoon — will keep Brown with the Seahawks through the 2021 season and increases his salary this season to more than $14 million. Coupled with the existing year on his deal, his contract with the Seahawks now works out to a four-year deal worth up to $46.25 million.
While full details of the contract — such as guarantees — have not yet been revealed, the average per year of $11.56 million would make Brown the 10th-highest paid left tackle in the NFL, according to OvertheCap.com.
The Seahawks traded a 2018 third-round pick and 2019 second-rounder for Brown, hoping to solidify a left tackle spot that had been in flux since Russell Okung departed as a free agent following the 2015 season. Seattle played the 2016 season with rookie George Fant and journeyman Bradley Sowell at left tackle. After losing Fant to a knee injury in the preseason a year ago, it went with Rees Odhiambo at left tackle before trading for Brown.
When the trade was made, Seahawks general manager John Schneider said the team hoped to secure Brown — who was named to the All-Pro first team in 2012 and second team in 2011 — to a contract that will enable him to play the rest of his career in Seattle, and that appears to be the case.
Shortly after the news leaked, Brown tweeted: “Looking forward to playing the rest of my career here!” He published a picture of himself signing the contract on Instagram.
Brown repeatedly said in recent months he would not hold out this season, confident that a new deal would get done.
“I’m just out here working, man, focusing on my craft,” Brown said Thursday. “I’m excited to be out here. This is my first training camp in a couple years, because I was injured the year before last. Being able to have a full year with the guys — being out here grinding, working — this is the time when the O-line specifically builds our chemistry. So being able to be a part of that is huge for me. That’s all I’m focused on right now.”
While Brown played it coy Thursday, the two sides had been talking increasingly of late and Saturday the deal got done.
It’s the first extension the Seahawks have handed out in 2018, and it speaks to the importance the team views Brown to solving its offensive-line issues.
On Friday, coach Pete Carroll spoke of the difference it has made in the offensive line this season to have Brown with the team from the beginning of the season and to have the left tackle spot set.
“Duane made an immediate impression on us when he got here,” Carroll said. “This is a real leader. He’s a real man in that huddle and in the locker room, and we’re very, very fortunate to have him. Great worker, he’s really an astute ballplayer, got a great voice in perspective; he’s going to help other guys. Last year was right in the middle of everything. He couldn’t have the effect but you could see the potential, and he’s just taken off in the offseason and done a great job, and he’s a great factor for us right now. I love to have him on my team.”
Brown played in nine games for the Seahawks last season but suffered an ankle injury in his second game that hampered him the rest of the year. Carroll said the way that Brown played through the injury — he rarely practiced the rest of the season — only reinforced why the team wanted him. Brown was named to the fourth Pro Bowl of his career at the end of the season.
“Just who he is,” Carroll said. “We hadn’t been through the battles with him, but his first indication of ‘is he going to be tough, is he going to push,’ all that — he did all that stuff and never even left a doubt. He’s all you’re looking for. Fantastic football player (and) fantastic team member.”
The 6 foot 4, 305 pound Brown has likewise impressed teammates.
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“Duane Brown is a difference maker, I think, in terms of how he plays the game,” quarterback Russell Wilson said Friday. “He’s a phenomenal football player. We didn’t have him last year early on in the season, but now that he’s here it just shows up.”
Carroll has spoken of how the team thinks Brown will help groom some of the young offensive linemen. Most notably may be third-year right tackle Germain Ifedi, who grew up in Houston and said he has long idolized Brown before he became a workout partner as Ifedi grew to be a standout at Texas A&M and a first-round pick in 2016.
“It’s probably the greatest move they have made in my benefit since I have been here,” Ifedi said Friday. “I can’t even lie about it. It has been nothing but good for this line. He’s kind of been a steadying force. He’s just a warrior out there and we follow his lead and it’s been great to have him. Nothing rattles him. He’s seen everything. He’s been through everything. He’s had his downs, he’s had his highs and he’s playing at the highest level of his career right now at 33. So that’s something you really strive for and admire about him.”
The question now is who is next?
The Seahawks aren’t believed to be talking to Thomas, who reportedly wants a deal that could make him the highest-paid safety in the NFL at upward of $13 million a season. Defensive end Frank Clark and linebacker K.J. Wright are also entering the final years of their contracts, but said this week they are not sure if anything will get done any time soon. Receiver Tyler Lockett is also entering the final year of his contract, but it’s thought the team is likely to play that one out.