By Brady Henderson
The Seahawks’ ability to find and develop cornerbacks helped put Brandon Browner in position for the eight-figure deal he received Friday.
Former Seahawk Brandon Browner signed a three-year deal with New England that is reportedly worth $17 million. (AP)
It’s also the reason why Seattle wasn’t the team that cut the check.
Browner is now a former Seahawk, signing a three-year deal with New England that is reportedly worth as much as $17 million. It’s the latest departure for a team that has now seen nine players from its championship roster move on either by signing elsewhere or being released, but anyone fretting over Browner’s loss should be reminded about the story of his acquisition.
He had spent four seasons in the Canadian Football League before Seattle signed him in 2011. That was only after coming away empty handed from multiple tryouts with NFL teams who deemed Browner too big and too slow to play a position that requires keep up with players who are smaller and quicker.
Turns out he’s pretty good at that, evident in the fact that he started for two and a half seasons on the NFL’s best defense. Along the way he had 10 interceptions, made the Pro Bowl in 2011 while leading the league in passes defended and developed a reputation as one of the league’s most physical cornerbacks.
That resume was enough to land Browner a job with the Patriots, who passed on the other cornerbacks who were still on the free-agent market in favor of one who won’t even be available for the first four games of 2014. Browner, who will be 30 in August, has been suspended twice in three seasons, and even before his latest ban first went into effect he had missed six games in 2013 because of injuries to his hamstring and then groin.
None of that deterred New England, and while three other teams were reportedly interested, it was the Patriots who gave Browner a deal that will average more than $5 million a season.
The Seahawks could have afforded that. Easily, in fact, considering this offseason they have lost more players than they’ve either added or re-signed. They had more than enough money to keep Browner. They just didn’t have a need to.
Consider not only the other cornerbacks on Seattle’s roster but the minimal resources it took to acquire them.
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Richard Sherman was drafted in the fifth round before becoming arguably the game’s top cornerback. Byron Maxwell was drafted one round later, and after picking off four passes over the final five games of the regular season he likely would have started opposite Sherman in 2014 regardless of whether Browner was back or not. Former sixth-round pick Jeremy Lane played well when pressed into action as did Walter Thurmond, who was chosen in the fourth round.
That’s four cornerbacks who are either starting or capable of doing so that Seattle unearthed in the later rounds of the draft. And while Thurmond is a free agent, Seattle has another option in Tharold Simon. The jury is still out on the 2013 fifth-round pick after he missed his rookie season because of a foot injury, but the Midas touch that Seattle seems to have with cornerbacks bodes well for his future.
That all made Browner’s departure somewhat expected. While the Seahawks might have welcomed him back on a cheap deal if the market was ice cold, there was no way they were going to pay anything close to what he got from New England to keep him.
They didn’t have to, not with the other cornerback options they have on their roster and a track record that would suggest they can find more.
Follow Brady Henderson on Twitter @BradyHenderson.