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 on 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 in 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 the use of marijuana.
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 – 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 at CenturyLink Field 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. He is also 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 players in August.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said in his regular Monday appearance on the team’s flagship radio station, ESPN 710 Seattle, that there 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.
A league source also said that last week Seattle worked out Perrish Cox, who started nine games for Denver in 2010 and was a reserve with the 49ers in 2012 and for nine games this season before being released.
The team could also simply look to its own roster for reinforcements in DeShawn Shead and Tharold Simon.
Shead, who signed as an undrafted rookie free agent in April 2012, has been on the practice squad all season but has impressed with his play in that role.
Carroll seemed to hint at activating Shead when he said on his radio show Monday that “he has done a great job with is. He is very close to being on this club and being part of the regular roster and all that.”
Simon, a fifth-round pick in 2013 out of LSU, has been on the Physically Unable to Perform list all season while battling a foot injury.
Carroll had said several times in recent weeks that Simon would begin practicing this week. Simon can practice for three weeks before the Seahawks would have to decide whether to activate him or put him on injured reserve. Carroll said on his radio show that the team has seen so little of Simon that it is hard to know how ready he would be to contribute this season.
Whichever way the Seahawks go, the upshot will be a secondary that will look a little different the rest of the season than it has throughout the first 11 games as Seattle jumped out to a record of 10-1 that is the best in the NFL.
The Browner suspension also marks the eighth time since 2010 that Seattle has had a player suspended for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
Carroll did not address the suspensions during his radio show due to league policy – neither has yet been officially announced by the NFL. That could happen today.
Seattle has had three suspensions this season, with Bruce Irvin missing the first four games after he was cited for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs.
The Thurmond and Browner news came during the team’s bye week.
Seattle will practice for the first time today since its bye, by which time it may have a new face or two in place in the secondary.