Brandon Browner reportedly violates substance-abuse policy
Cornerback Brandon Browner, who already was out with a groin injury, is likely finished with the Seahawks if reports of second violation in past year prove true.
Seattle Times staff reporter
New Orleans @ Seahawks,
5:40 p.m., ESPN
The Legion of Boom might have lost a founding member for good. Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner is facing a second suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.
A league source said Browner was being suspended for using a non-performance enhancing drug, thought to be marijuana.
ESPN reported that Browner’s appeal has already been heard, making the suspension apparently final. Players are suspended for a year when they have advanced to the final stage of the NFL’s drug program — repeated violations are one way to advance to the final stage.
Browner was suspended for the final four games last season for using performance-enhancing drugs and reportedly had a positive test while with Denver in 2005-06.
The Browner news came a day after it was learned that cornerback Walter Thurmond, who started in place of Browner in the Seahawks’ win over the Vikings on Nov. 17, was being suspended for four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, also reported to be for marijuana use.
It was already questionable whether Browner, 29, would play again this season. He suffered a groin injury Nov. 10 against Atlanta and was thought to be out four to six weeks.
Browner is a free agent after the season and there had been speculation the team was unlikely to sign him anyway.
It appears almost a certainty the Seahawks will move on from Browner, who came to Seattle in 2011 and teamed with fellow cornerback Richard Sherman and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor to form a secondary that became one of the best in the NFL and called itself the Legion of Boom.
Browner started all 36 games he played for Seattle since 2011 and was named to the 2011 Pro Bowl. Browner played at Oregon State then spent the 2007-10 seasons with Calgary of the CFL before reviving his NFL career in Seattle.
The Seahawks have spent the past few days examining options for replacements with just three healthy cornerbacks on the active 53-man roster — Sherman, Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane.
Maxwell saw increased time against the Vikings and would be a logical candidate to start Monday’s game against the New Orleans Saints opposite Sherman.
Maxwell, in his third season from Clemson, has not started a game and has 17 tackles in a reserve role.
Lane, in his second season from Northwestern State (La.), started the final three games last year when Browner and Thurmond were out.
Lane has seven tackles in 10 games this season, and is one of the team’s special-teams aces.
The Seahawks were reported to be exploring re-signing veteran Antoine Winfield, a 36-year-old who the team signed last April before he was waived in the cutdown to 53 in August.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said in his regular Monday radio appearance on ESPN 710 Seattle, that it was “a possibility’’ the team would sign Winfield, who played primarily in the slot, the same role usually filled by Thurmond.
The Seahawks also on Monday worked out Marcus Trufant, who played for Seattle from 2003-12 and was cut by Jacksonville before this season.
A league source said that Seattle last week worked out Perrish Cox, who started nine games for Denver in 2010 and was a reserve with the 49ers in 2012 and for nine games this season before being released.
The team could also look to its own roster for reinforcements in DeShawn Shead and Tharold Simon.
Shead, signed as an undrafted rookie free agent in April 2012, has been on the practice squad all season but has impressed with his play.
Carroll seemed to hint at activating Shead when he said on his radio show Monday that Shead “has done a great job with us. He is very close to being on this club and being part of the regular roster.’’
Simon, a fifth-round pick in 2013 out of LSU, has been on the Physically Unable to Perform list all season while battling a foot injury.
Carroll had said several times in recent weeks that Simon would begin practicing this week. Simon can practice for three weeks before the Seahawks would have to decide whether to activate him or put him on injured reserve.
Carroll said on his radio show the team has seen so little of Simon that it is hard to know how ready he would be to contribute this season.
Whichever way the Seahawks go, the upshot will be a secondary that will look different than it has through the first 11 games as Seattle jumped to a 10-1 record, best in the NFL.
The Browner suspension also marks the eighth time since 2010 that Seattle has had a player suspended for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
Carroll did not address the suspensions during his radio show due to league policy — neither suspension has been announced by the NFL. That could happen Tuesday.
The Seahawks have had three suspensions this season, with Bruce Irvin missing the first four games after he was cited for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org.