Seattle’s bye week started with the joy delivered from having the NFL’s best record at 10-1 and bolstered by the return of several starting players.
A week later, the Seahawks are making headlines for multiple suspensions. Again.
A day after the news that cornerback Walter Thurmond will be suspended for four games because of a second violation of the league’s substance-abuse policy, came word that cornerback Brandon Browner will reportedly be suspended for a year for a violation of the same policy.
Browner was suspended the final four games of the 2012 season for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy, which is separate from the substance-abuse policy. After missing four games, Browner returned to join the Seahawks in the playoffs.
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That will not happen this time or likely in the future.
According to ESPN, Browner will be suspended for a year because of a second violation of the league’s policies within a calendar year. This time, Browner reportedly violated the league’s substance-abuse policy.
Browner, 29, is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. His time with the Seahawks appeared limited prior to the reported suspension because of several key free-agent decisions looming for Seattle in the next two years.
His groin injury in Atlanta on Nov. 10 was expected to keep Browner out four to six weeks. The Seahawks have not put Browner on injured reserve, but are expected to do so. His suspension does little to change how Seattle was moving forward.
The early emergence of Thurmond, also an unrestricted free agent after this season, seemed to give the Seahawks a clear replacement for Browner. But that is now in doubt too.
Thurmond’s suspension is expected to be officially announced Tuesday, and the team will make a corresponding move on the 53-man roster when that happens.
Byron Maxwell, who played a lot in Week 11 with Browner out, will likely move into Thurmond’s starting spot. Jeremy Lane will also see action at cornerback. Lane started three games at cornerback during Browner’s 2012 suspension, and Seattle won all three.
The Seahawks have a handful of other options. Former Minnesota Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield is “going through the process” with the Seahawks, according to his agent. Winfield has not worked out for Seattle since he was cut at the end of training camp. Winfield then retired.
Former Seahawks cornerback and Tacoma native Marcus Trufant worked out for the team on Monday and former San Francisco 49ers cornerback Perrish Cox worked out for Seattle a couple of weeks ago, along with former Oakland Raiders safety Michael Huff. Huff was signed by the Denver Broncos a week ago.
DeShawn Shead is a candidate who could be summoned from the practice squad. The Seahawks like his size (6 foot 2, 220 pounds) and his recent work in practice. Shead was signed as an undrafted free agent last season.
Rookie Tharold Simon, the Seahawks’ fifth-round pick in this year’s draft, is expected to return to practice Wednesday. He has been on the reserve/physically unable to perform list since injuring his foot in rookie minicamp. Simon can practice for three weeks before the Seahawks would have to decide whether to activate him or put him on injured reserve.
The suspensions for both Thurmond and Browner indicate they have violated the league’s drug policy multiple times.
If Thurmond is suspended four games, it means he was moved to “Stage 2,” outlined in the league’s substance-abuse policy. He will be in Stage 2 for 24 months or two full seasons, whichever is shorter. If he commits another violation in that time, he will be moved to Stage 3 and suspended for a calendar year. If not, he returns to a clean slate.
Seattle practices Tuesday for the first time since the bye week. Some rearranging in the locker room will be necessary first.