SEATTLE — Seahawks cornerback Walter Thurmond was suspended four games for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, adding to Seattle’s challenge against New Orleans, the second-ranked passing offense in the NFL, next Monday.
The Seahawks are playing without starting cornerback Brandon Browner, out four to six weeks with a groin injury suffered in a win at Atlanta Nov. 10.
Thurmond started in place of Browner for Seattle’s 41-20 win over Minnesota on Nov. 17, punctuating the victory with his first interception, which he returned 29 yards for a touchdown.
Then came reports Sunday — during Seattle’s bye week — that Thurmond had been suspended. According to NFL.com, Thurmond planned to appeal the suspension but will drop it early in the week so he would be available for playoff games. Seattle has five regular-season games remaining, beginning with a game against the Saints at 5:40 p.m. next Monday at CenturyLink Field.
The game could go a long way toward deciding home-field advantage in the NFC . The Seahawks are 10-1, the best record in the NFL, and New Orleans is 9-2, led by quarterback Drew Brees and a passing offense averaging 317.3 yards per game.
The Seahawks had no comment on the news, but Thurmond tweeted, “I’m disappointed in myself for letting my teammates and family down.”
Thurmond will be the seventh Seattle player since 2010 to serve a suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.
Vai Taua, John Moffitt, Allen Barbre, Winston Guy, Browner and Bruce Irvin all were suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs. Thurmond was reportedly cited for non-performance-enhancing drugs. Cornerback Richard Sherman also had an initial test for a banned drug last season but had his suspension overturned.
Without Thurmond and Browner, Seattle has three healthy cornerbacks on its active roster — Sherman, Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane.
Maxwell would likely move into the starting lineup with Lane taking over nickel cornerback duties.
Seattle has one cornerback on its practice squad, DeShawn Shead, and could activate him to take Thurmond’s spot on the roster. It was reported earlier that Shead had agreed to a deal paying him $8,500 a week rather than the minimum $6,000 for a practice-squad player as an inducement to keep him with Seattle.
Seahawks’ Browner facing second suspension
SEATTLE — 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 would be suspended for a year because this is his second violation in a calendar year and his appeal has already been heard. He was suspended for the final four games last season for using performance-enhancing drugs.
It was already questionable whether the 29-year-old Browner would play again this season as he suffered a groin injury Nov. 10 against Atlanta and was deemed out 4-6 weeks.
He is a free agent after the season and there had been speculation the team was unlikely to sign him anyway as it will have a number of big decisions to make in coming seasons.
It now 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. Having played in college at Oregon State, Browner spent the 2007-10 seasons playing for Calgary of the CFL before reviving his NFL career in Seattle.
The Browner news came a day after it was learned that cornerback Walter Thurmond — who started in place of Browner for the 41-20 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.
That had the Seahawks spending the last few days examining options for replacements with just three other healthy cornerbacks on the active 53-man roster —Richard Sherman, Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane.
Maxwell saw increased time against the Vikings and would be a logical candidate to start in Monday’s game against the New Orleans Saints opposite Sherman.
Maxwell, in his third season out of Clemson, has not started a game in his career and has 17 tackles in a reserve role this season.
Lane, in his second season out of Northwestern State (La.) started the final three games of last season when Browner and Thurmond were out (Thurmond due to injury) and has seven tackles in 10 games this season, also serving as one of the team’s special teams aces.
The Seahawks were also 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 appearance on the team’s flagship radio station, ESPN 710 Seattle, that it was “a possibility” that 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 the 2013 season.