As Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner announced last night, he has been reinstated by the NFL. But he left out one fairly significant caveat.
He’ll be suspended for the first four games of the 2014 regular season, and he’ll pay a four-game fine on top of that.
The NFL and the NFLPA jointly announced the negotiated compromise, which staved off litigation that would have challenged the league’s decision to discipline Browner for missing drug tests while he wasn’t playing in the NFL — and that would have highlighted the NFLPA’s alleged failure to notify him of the penalties that were piling up while he played in the CFL.
“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 joint statement reads. “Browner was suspended without pay for the Seattle Seahawks’ final five games of the 2013 season, including the playoffs. His contract with the Seahawks expires at the end of the 2013 League Year on March 11. 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.”
It’s a huge win for Browner, who otherwise would have been unable to participate in any offseason or preseason activities, making him essentially a pariah until December 2014, at the earliest. Now, he can sign with a team, show up for the offseason program, attend training camp, and play in the preseason.
As explained during Wednesday’s PFT Live, teams aren’t all that bothered by a four-game suspension to start the season, since it allows them to carry an extra player on the roster for the first month of the season, delaying by four games the decision regarding the last man out the door as the roster plunges from up to 90 to 53.
Browner presumably will be placed in Stage Three of the substance-abuse program, which means that one more violation will once again result in an indefinite suspension. If that happens again, it’ll be far less likely that he negotiates a better deal.