By Danny O’Neil
RENTON – Brandon Browner was getting dangerously close to being broke when he arrived in Seattle after four years in the Canadian Football League and four months at home during the 2011 NFL lockout.
Two years later, he has two seasons as a starting cornerback, a Pro Bowl on his resume and just one season remaining on his contract. And while plenty of players will tell you that football is a business, free agency is not the bottom line Browner is focusing upon.
“That’s something I don’t want to think about right now,” Browner said after Wednesday’s minicamp practice. “Football is my focus, you know what I’m saying. So that’s what I’m going to stick with, let my agent deal with the economic part of the game. I’m here to make plays, man. That’s it.”
“He’s probably one of the most tenacious players in the NFL,” Richard Sherman said of fellow cornerback Brandon Browner, who’s entering the final year of his contract. (AP)
It’s an approach that is going to be echoed around Seattle’s locker room as the offseason draws to an end with Thursday’s preparation. The business part of team building is done. Seattle made a long-term investment in Percy Harvin, a pair of significant short-term deals with defensive linemen Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett and extended safety Kam Chancellor as a core member of the defense.
Other items were tabled. Receiver Golden Tate is entering the final year of his contract, Doug Baldwin is scheduled to become a restricted free agent in 2014 and then there’s Browner, one of the twin towers in Seattle’s secondary.
He is 6 feet 4 and will play at just under 220 pounds, but it’s more than just his size that stands out. His steel-toed toughness has helped shape this team’s identity as he’s the kind of guy capable of putting an opponent flat on his back, sitting on top of the receiver’s chest and then standing up to flex his biceps in a bodybuilder’s pose.
In fact, Browner did exactly that to Packers receiver Greg Jennings last year in a Week 3 game against Green Bay on Monday night. He also flipped Bengals receiver Jerome Simpson head over heels after a play in 2011 and knocked over three different Arizona players on the same punt return in the final game of that season.
“He’s probably one of the most tenacious players in the NFL,” said Richard Sherman, the cornerback who starts on the other side of Browner. “He’s a rugged, hard-working, hard-nosed football player. If he gets out on the market, I would expect a bidding war to start. I really hope he stays in Seattle. I hope we can find a way to re-sign him.”
That’s something that everyone will be watching. Browner, who will turn 29 in August, spent his first NFL season on injured reserve in Denver. He then played four seasons in the Canadian Football League before getting another chance in the NFL, and he white-knuckled his way through the league’s four-month lockout, tapping almost every bit of his savings.
He claimed a starting spot during Seattle’s training camp, playing so well that the Seahawks decided to trade Kelly Jennings only weeks after re-signing him. Two seasons, 28 regular-season starts and nine interceptions later, Browner has become a cornerstone in one of the very best secondaries in the NFL.
“It’s not the Legion of Boom if you lose a member,” Sherman said.
Assembling that group might be as difficult as preserving it, though, and holding everyone together will certainly be more expensive. Both Sherman and safety Earl Thomas have two years remaining on their contracts, but could seek extensions next offseason.
For now, the group is intact for at least one more season that is loaded with expectations.
“I expect a lot out of us,” Browner said. “We’ve got another year together as a group. I’m looking forward to a great season with this organization.”