By Brady Henderson
Brandon Browner said Tuesday that he's been reinstated by the NFL, making the announcement in a Twitter post in which he expressed gratitude that his agent and commissioner Roger Goodell came to a resolution with the cornerback's disputed suspension before it was litigated in court.
Cornerback Brandon Browner (39) was prepared to file a lawsuit against the NFL challenging his suspension. (AP)
Browner, a starter for the Seahawks the past three seasons, called his reinstatement "wonderful news" and said it gives him "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. I am grateful that Commissioner Goodell and my agent were able to resolve this issue in a positive, productive manner so I can continue my career, provide for my family, and help my team win a Super Bowl.
"Thank you to all who have gone out of their way to show their support. I will live up to your expectations of me."
Browner, 29, was suspended indefinitely in December for a violation of the league's substance-abuse policy after reportedly testing positive for marijuana.
Even a reduced suspension constitutes a significant change in fortunes. Browner was facing the NFL's equivalent of a one-year jail sentence, unable to apply for reinstatement until next December and then being in the difficult position of trying to restart his career at age 30, coming off a 12-month layoff and with two suspensions on his resume.
Instead, he's now set to become an unrestricted free agent on March 11.
It's unknown how much interest – if any – the Seahawks will have in bringing him back. Browner made the Pro Bowl in 2011 and followed that up with another strong season in 2012, even though it included a four-game performance-enhancing drug suspension. But in 2013 he was temporarily benched for lapses in pass coverage and then missed five weeks with a groin injury before he was suspended. Seattle's defense, meanwhile, didn't skip a beat as younger cornerbacks Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane emerged in Browner's absence.
News of Browner's reinstatement comes as he was prepared to file a lawsuit against the NFL challenging the validity of his suspension. Browner entered the league's substance-abuse program at some point during his time in Denver, where he spent his rookie season on injured reserve after going undrafted out of Oregon State in 2005. He was released before the start of the following season, did not play with an NFL team in 2006 and then spent the next four years in the Canadian Football League before returning to the NFL with Seattle in 2011.
Browner's argument is that he was unfairly escalated in the substance-abuse program – to the point where his latest violation triggered an indefinite suspension – because of tests he allegedly missed while he was out of the NFL.
Follow Brady Henderson on Twitter @BradyHenderson.