I have been operating under the assumption that Brandon Browner was going to be a restricted free agent (RFA) after this upcoming season. It turns out that this isn’t the case. ESPN’s Mike Sando dug up the details, and its now known that Browner will be an unrestricted free agent after 2013.
This is a pretty big deal. If Browner were to be a RFA, the Seahawks would be able to keep Browner in 2014 for a modest $1.5 to $2 million salary. If another team wanted him badly enough, he could still be signed away, but at least the Seahawks would get a 1st or 2nd round pick in the process, depending on the contract the Seahawks offer.
As an unrestricted free agent, Browner is almost certain to walk and join another team. The Seahawks will already have the difficult task of getting Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas re-signed under the salary cap. Fitting Browner under the cap at the salary he’ll require will be almost impossible.
The fact that Browner is indeed entering his “contract year” might alter the roster strategy for this year as well. Antoine Winfield’s contract also ends after this season, as does Walter Thurmond’s. If all three of those players were to make the team this year, then it would leave the Seahawks in a difficult position a year form now as they try and replace at least half the depth at that position.
For instance, if the Seahawks were keep five corner backs on the roster this year, and all three of those players with expiring contracts were to make the team, Seattle would go into next offseason with just Sherman and Jeremy Lane under contract. That clearly isn’t an ideal situation.
This may put pressure on the Seahawks to keep Byron Maxwell and/or 5th round pick Tharold Simon over Walter Thurmond, even if Thurmond were to outplay them throughout training camp.
The team might also feel pressure to keep six corner backs on the roster in order to mitigate the problem for 2014. If that happens, then it could come at the expense of one of the team’s safeties, and that would only push the problem off onto another position group.
Both Chris Maragos and Jeron Johnson have expiring contracts as well. If the Seahawks keep four safeties and both of them make the roster, then the team ends up with a similar problem to what we were considering with the corner backs. I have to assume that all of this would make Winston Guy’s job a bit safer as well.
The point here is that all of these things are related in a way that many fans don’t realize. Browner being an UFA a year earlier than expected could effect the fates of multiple other defensive backs this year.
The Seahawks were already facing a number of very tough roster decisions this year. This just made a few of them a little tougher.