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Brandon Browner: Decision to return to Seahawks was a ‘no-brainer’

"I left but it was like I never left," Brandon Browner said of his relationship with the Seahawks' secondary. (AP)
LISTEN: Cornerback Brandon Browner on returning home to Seahawks

Brandon Browner describes his decision to return to the Seahawks as not much of a decision at all.

At some point last month, around the time the Saints had released him after one disastrous season, he said he got a call from his agent informing him of his options. One of them, Washington, would have been an unfamiliar environment and his fourth team in as many seasons. Or he could come back to Seattle, the place where his NFL career had taken off, the place where he still felt a sense of brotherhood with former teammates and the place where he had previously said he wanted to return.

“That’s pretty much a no-brainer where I wanted to go if I had the option,” Browner said in an interview with Brock Huard on 710 ESPN Seattle.

Browner, 31, signed a one-year deal with Seattle that reportedly includes a base salary of $760,000 – which is the minimum for a player of his tenure – and no guaranteed money. The deal didn’t come to light until last weekend, right before the Seahawks began their voluntary offseason workout program. Browner has been in attendance. He said he feels like he’s at home.

“I actually feel like I’ve never left although I’ve been gone for two seasons or whatnot, played for two different teams,” he said. “I fit right in.”

Browner’s perceived fit in Seattle’s defense is one reason to believe he could at least approximate his form from his first stint with the Seahawks, during which he made one Pro Bowl appearance and developed a reputation as one of the NFL’s most physical and intimidating cornerbacks.

He spent the 2014 season with New England, and while he started for the Patriots and helped them win Super Bowl XLIX over Seattle – Browner was instrumental in the decisive interception – the team declined its option to retain him.

Last season with New Orleans was, by Browner’s own admission, the worst of his career. He was called for 24 penalties – the most for any player since 2001, according to ESPN Stats & Information – while starting every game for a defense that was historically poor against the pass. He got into a face-to-face shouting match on the sideline with the Saints’ defense coordinator, and things had gotten so bad by the end of the season that he was booed during introductions before a home game.

Browner recently revealed that he played through a torn MCL that he sustained in the Saints’ first preseason game, but he told Huard that it’s no longer an issue now that he’s seven months removed from the injury.

He was asked about the belief that he’s better suited to play in Seattle’s defense than he was or would be in other places.

“I’m not one for making any predictions or anything like that,” Browner said. “I just want to come and play ball. I think I’ll be a lot more comfortable here because I’ve been here before. I got guys around me I’ve played with, been on the field with, and the environment here in Seattle is like no other.”

Browner said he stayed in contact the last two years with his fellow defensive backs Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas, the other founding members of what became the NFL’s top secondary.

“Me and Sherm, we talked probably a couple times a week for a couple years,” he said. “I stayed in contact with Earl and Kam as well. I still go to those guys’ camps and things like that. It’s really a bond, brotherhood. We talk about that here in Seattle, and that’s what it really is. I left but it was like I never left.”

Browner is the second member of Seattle’s 2013 Super Bowl team to return. The other, defensive end Chris Clemons, mentioned his desire to repeat what that team accomplished as a factor in his decision to re-sign with the Seahawks. Browner was asked if he can sense that feeling now that he’s back and the team has gotten together for its offseason program.

“Most definitely. I feel that way,” he said. “You say that, it reminds me of something that Kam told me yesterday. ‘Man, we’ve got to put our hands on these guys.’ And he said that with excitement in his voice. It was just Day 1 of the workouts, so there’s definitely that feeling around here. We’ve got to get back to how we played ball around here. And they haven’t fell off. I just want to be able to come back and maybe help out a little bit.”

How exactly Browner will be helping out, if at all, remains to be seen. The details of his contract, which emerged Thursday, reinforced the belief that the Seahawks aren’t necessarily counting on him to start or even contribute regularly. Jeremy Lane will presumably fill one of the top three spots after signing an extension earlier this offseason, in which case Browner would be in the mix for the other along with several other players. Perhaps there’s a situational role that Seattle has in mind for Browner.

“I can’t speak on what role I’m going to play,” he said. “I just want to come in and have a role. I’m excited to be a part of the team.”