The Seattle Seahawks on Sunday re-signed cornerback Brandon Browner to a one-year contract. He is expected to compete as a depth player in the secondary and at right cornerback opposite Richard Sherman.
The Seattle Seahawks on Sunday officially announced they had agreed to terms with cornerback Brandon Browner, a founding member of the Legion of Boom who was part of the team’s Super Bowl XLVIII champion squad before playing the last two seasons with New England and New Orleans.
With the Patriots, Browner earned another Super Bowl ring, playing a key role in disrupting the final Seattle pass play at the goalline that was intercepted by Malcolm Butler.
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Browner was a starter for the Seahawks from 2011-13. Now 31 (he will turn 32 before the season, on Aug. 4), Browner is reportedly signing a one-year contract that is expected to be fairly low-risk for the Seahawks, potentially similar in nature to the deal that also recently brought back defensive end Chris Clemons, also a member of the Super Bowl XLVIII team before spending the last two years with Jacksonville. Like Clemons, Browner had recently been released to his signing would not factor into the compensatory pick formula.
Browner confirmed the signing via Twitter, writing: “I’ve been excited about this one, been trying to keep it to myself. Secrets out,I’m grateful and can’t wait to get back to work.”
Browner had intriguingly foreshadowed the signing last summer when he played at Richard Sherman’s softball game at CenturyLink Field and said during an on-field interview that he hoped he could come back to Seattle after his days with the Saints were done.
Browner signed a three-year, $15 million contract with the Saints prior to last season that included $7.75 million guaranteed. But he was released after a season in which the Saints set dubious NFL records for most touchdown passes allowed (45) and opponent passer rating (116.1). Browner was also flagged for 24 penalties, with 21 accepted, which according to ESPN is the most for any player since at least 2001.
Browner, though, revealed that he played last season with a knee ligament injury initially suffered when he took a helmet to the knee in a preseason game on Aug.13.
“How my season started last year, tore my MCL in the first pre season game,” Browner wrote on Instagram. “But I kept positive minds set trying to get back for week 1 of regular season. Anyone who has tore something in the knee knows the little muscles around the knee go dead. So your recovery is things to strengthen that area and get the muscles to firing again. Anyways I come back wearing a knee brace because my injury wasn’t completely held. I never wanted to make an excuse, so I played thru it. And when I got beat on a play I gave credit where credits do. You’ll never catch me say I didn’t play well because my knee. Because I don’t believe that, but I was restricted at times. Last year was the most frustrating year for me, those who know me knew I was affected by it. I didn’t want to leave the house and all I was thinking about it playing better each week. But that never happened for me. And this is a BIG part of what drives me every day.”
It’s thought the Seahawks expect that a healthier Browner will be able to play more like the player of previous seasons and not how he performed in 2015.
Seattle has Richard Sherman as its starting left cornerback and recently re-signed Jeremy Lane to a four-year, $23 million contract with $11 million guaranteed. But Lane can also play the nickelback spot, and the Seahawks could view Browner as an experienced insurance policy as the right cornerback depending on how things shake out with their younger players, and a player whose size (6-4, 221 pounds) could also provide some specific matchup options.
The Seahawks also last week re-signed defensive back DeShawn Shead, who can also play the outside corner and nickelback spots, and have a flurry of other, younger cornerbacks on the roster such as Marcus Burley, Tharold Simon, Tye Smith and Mohammed Seisay (Simon tweeted “More fuel to the fire” shortly after the news broke.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll had hinted at the NFL league meetings last month that the team was done adding to the cornerback spot prior to the draft after re-signing Lane.
“I was really happy to get Jeremy back because I thought that’s a big deal for us,” Carroll said. “His best play is ahead of him. He’s done great stuff for us. But that solidifies the corner spot going into the draft, which I thought was really important. Really thought DeShawn Shead did a great job last year, but I think the combination of Jeremy and DeShawn gives us two different style corners, and both those guys play the nickel spot. It allows us to flip guys around matchup-wise. Richard as well as we did last year. So we have all the flexibility, the best flexibility we’ve ever had, and it allows us to go into the draft and not have to be concerned about having to get a guy. With the young competition that we have, we think that it’s a pretty strong position for us.”
But apparently the lure of adding more competition and reuniting the Legion of Boom proved too appealing for the Seahawks. The Seahawks also have appeared to grow wary of adding veterans who are not familiar with Seattle’s system and techniques for playing in the secondary after the failed experiment a year ago with Cary Williams, and to a lesser extent that of Antoine Winfield in 2013.
Browner, who played at Oregon State, originally signed with the Seahawks in 2011 after spending four seasons with the Calgary Stampeders. With unique size, Browner came to symbolize both Seattle’s liking of big cornerbacks and also its success in allowing big cornerbacks to thrive in the Seahawks’ defense.
Browner made the Pro Bowl in 2011 when he started all 16 games. Browner started 12 games in 2012, missing four when he was suspended for violating the NFL’s policy on performance enhancing drugs.
Browner started the first eight games of the 2013 season, then suffered a groin injury that sidelined him for the rest of the season. He also was reported to be facing a suspension for missing drug tests that were required due to his earlier violations of the NFL’s drug policy. Browner was a free agent after the 2013 season and signed with the Patriots, sitting out the first four games as part of the suspension for the missing tests, which Browner said was a misunderstanding.
Browner signed a three-year contract worth $12.35 million with the Patriots in March, 2014. He was involved in the key play of the Super Bowl win over the Seahawks when he jammed receiver Jermaine Kearse at the line of scrimmage, which helped give Malcolm Butler room to break on the ball and pick off Russell Wilson’s pass to Ricardo Lockette.
But he became a free agent again when the Patriots declined to pick up his option for the 2016 season.
Browner helped form the original Legion of Boom secondary in 2011 with Sherman and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. Sherman tweeted “Back at it again….LOB” shortly after the news broke.