RENTON — The way left tackle Duane Brown portrayed the outcome of his “hold in” with the Seahawks sounded like a Rolling Stones’ song — he might not have gotten what he wanted, but ultimately he got what he needed to return to the team in time for the regular-season opener Sunday at Indianapolis.
Brown hit the field Monday for his first practice since January after he and the team reached agreement on some enhancements to his contract for the 2021 season, as well as an injury protection clause that would pay him $2 million if he cannot play next year due to an injury.
It was not the extension beyond this year that Brown had hoped. But when he met the media before Wednesday’s practice, he said it was enough.
“I had my expectations for what I wanted,” Brown said. “And they had in their minds what they thought they could get done. What we came to wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but it’s OK. It’s a business, and we came to a compromise. I’m happy about it. They are happy about it. Now I’m ready to get to work.”
Brown confirmed what had been speculated throughout — that he was hoping to get an extension of any kind beyond the 2021 season.
“Something past this year,” Brown said. “I mean, I’m feeling good. I feel like I’m still playing at a high level, and I want to continue to do that here.”
But with Brown now 36 years old, the Seahawks want to take things essentially on a year-by-year basis and told Brown they wanted to get through this season and then talk about next year.
Brown says he knows some might have wondered whether he was ready to retire last year.
Brown said not only did he never consider that, he definitely wants to keep playing beyond this season.
“I didn’t want to walk away from this game then, I don’t want to walk away from it after this year,” Brown said. “I feel better this year than I did last year. So that’s been my thought process.”
Brown, who had been attending meetings and walk-throughs but doing no on-field work, is entering the final season of a contract he signed in 2018 that had a base salary of $10 million. It included a roster bonus of another $1 million.
As part of his deal to return, that bonus is now guaranteed. Seattle reworked the deal to get some salary cap relief and gave Brown a $7 million signing bonus while reducing the salary to $4 million, according to ESPN. Because Brown also will get paid for a 17th game, and with some other incentives tied to playing time and the Pro Bowl, he could make up to $12 million this year.
Seattle added a voidable year to the deal to spread out the signing bonus to get cap relief and included the injury protection clause.
The two sides also agreed to talk after the season.
“But I’m not worried about after this season right now,” Brown said. “… It was all good. There’s never been any bad blood on my end, and I just want to make that be known. I love and respect everybody in this organization and the feeling’s mutual.”
Brown said he never considered that he would have missed games this season. Some had thought he might since he held out for six games with Houston in 2017, which led to his trade to Seattle.
“My whole thought throughout this time was to be available this week,” he said.
And one reason, he said, is the relationship he has with quarterback Russell Wilson, whom he said has become particularly close to since he became a Seahawk.
Brown acknowledged he was taken aback when Wilson said in February that he was frustrated with having been hit as often as he has during his Seahawks career, a comment that led to a month or so of trade rumors and conjecture of Wilson’s future.
Brown said Wilson sought him out to talk after those comments, and the two made amends.
“I had to talk to him,” Brown said. “We had a good conversation.”
Brown said that as an offensive linemen “you hate to hear” the kind of comments Wilson made. “That’s something we take pride in, keeping our quarterback clean.”
Brown said he understood that some of Wilson’s frustration predated his arrival and that the two think “it’s a group effort not to have sacks. It’s not just on us. I think they are all aware of that. But I’m the first person to go off whenever I see him get hit, so he knows that. … There’s never been any beef or bad blood between me and him.”
Still, some wondered whether Wilson was trying to make public amends when he said in August that the team needed to get something done with Brown.
Brown said the comments “meant a lot to me. He didn’t have to do that. It just goes to show how much he appreciates the work I put in. And that’s another reason why I said I never wanted to miss any games, because I want to be out there working for him, as well.”
So now to get to work. While Brown said not practicing means he has fresh legs, he also acknowledged there’s a little bit of catching up to do, especially with the Seahawks under a new offensive coordinator in Shane Waldron, who is implementing more up-tempo looks.
“You’ve gotta be in shape (to go up-tempo),” Brown said. “That’s why this is a crucial week for me. I mean, I’m in good shape. But football shape when you are actually playing and doing the plays, it’s an adjustment. So I’m looking forward to today and tomorrow.”