SEATTLE — Cornerback Brandon Browner, who had been placed on indefinite suspension by the NFL in December for violating the league’s policy on substance abuse, tweeted on Tuesday afternoon that he had been reinstated.
On Wednesday, Browner was handed a four-game suspension for the 2014 season by the NFL, the league and the Players Association said in a joint release.
This makes Browner, who played for the Seahawks the last three seasons but is now a free agent, eligible to sign with any team — including Seattle, if it were to choose to bring him back — when the free agency signing period begins March 11.
“I received wonderful news today,” Browner tweeted Tuesday afternoon. “The NFL has reinstated me, and I now have the opportunity to prove to the fans and my teammates how important this sport is to me. I realize now more than ever that being part of the NFL is not a right, but a privilege.”
Since Browner is now a free agent, the Seahawks had no comment.
After Browner was deemed to have tested for a banned substance in November (said to be marijuana) the NFL then determined that Browner was a Stage 3 offender. That made him eligible for a one-year suspension because he had not submitted to tests during the time when he played in the Canadian Football League from 2007-10.
Browner’s agent, Peter Schaffer, has contended in numerous interviews that Browner did not receive sufficient notification of the tests. That led Browner to appeal the initial ruling, which was denied by the NFL, which then placed Browner on indefinite suspension.
Schaffer told several outlets last week that he planned to file suit against the NFL not only challenging the decision but also to retrieve financial damages arriving from the suspension.
In his tweet, Browner indicated that Tuesday’s news was the result of a deal struck between the two sides to avoid a battle in court.
Browner, who turns 30 on Aug. 2, played in eight games for the Seahawks in 2013 before suffering a groin injury and then being suspended.
The 29-year-old had been forced to sit out the Seattle Seahawks’ final five games of 2013, including the club’s victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, after losing an appeal following a failed drug test.
“The NFL and NFL Players Association have agreed to conditionally reinstate Brandon Browner from his indefinite suspension under the Policy and Program on Substances of Abuse,” the statement read. “He will be eligible to sign with a club and participate in offseason and preseason activities. Should he comply with the terms of the Substance Abuse Policy and Program, he will be fully reinstated after serving a four-game suspension without pay at the start of the 2014 regular season and forfeiting an additional four weeks of pay.”
Browner also missed Seattle’s final four regular-season games of the 2012 season after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance.
The 2011 Pro Bowl selection started eight times during the Seahawks’ championship campaign, registering 19 tackles, one interception and 10 passes defensed.
Johnson gets 2nd-round tender
The Seahawks placed a second-round tender on restricted free agent safety Jeron Johnson.
Putting a tender on a restricted free agent means the team has a right of first refusal to match any offer that the player receives (officially, a five-day period after the offer is extended). It also means Johnson will get $2.187 million if he signs the tender and remains with the Seahawks, and that Seattle would be compensated with a second-round pick if he is signed by another team.
Johnson played in just seven games in 2013 as the backup at strong safety to Kam Chancellor while battling hamstring injuries and was placed on injured reserve on Dec. 11.