It was just a few weeks ago that Brandon Browner’s agent/lawyer, Peter Schaffer, stated he would take action, if necessary, to get his client reinstated into the NFL. In an interview with Pro Football Talk, he was quite direct:
We will continue to exhaust all administrative remedies. If not successful, we will sue the living daylights out of the league.
It doesn’t appear he’ll have to go to those measures. On Tuesday afternoon, Browner received the news he’d waited months to hear. And whether or not Schaffer’s/Browner’s impending legal action had anything to do with the reinstatement, Browner will become an unrestricted free agent next Tuesday [March 11th].
Browner was suspended indefinitely on December 18, 2013 for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. After being sidelined for the remainder of the regular season, and then missing the opportunity to participate in the Super Bowl, it appears Browner is grateful for the opportunity, and is looking forward to turning to a new chapter in his NFL career:
I received wonderful news today. The NFL has reinstated me, and I now have 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.
In regards to the Rams, it’s no secret that they’ll be needing to bolster their corps of cornerbacks - whether via free agency or the draft - prior to the onset of the 2014 regular season. With connections to Jeff Fisher’s former team, the Tennessee Titans, Alterraun Verner has been a popular name amongst free agent fits for the Rams. Browner now joins Verner, along with Vontae Davis, Aqib Talib, Charles Tillman, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, as CB’s who will be highly sought after when free agency begins next week.
Browner, a Pro Bowl selection in 2011, is a physical, hard-hitting cornerback that could provide the type of attitude Rams’ defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, is looking to field. The former "Legion of Boom" corner stands at 6’4" and clearly possesses the size to stifle large, physical wide receivers. And while not stellar when defending the run, his pass coverage skills could help the Rams defend against big pass plays; something they struggled with in 2013.
PFT also notes that it’s uncertain whether Browner’s reinstatement will be a "no strings attached" situation. He was previously suspended for the entirety of the 2014 season, so it remains to be seen whether or not there will be caveats to his reinstatement; i.e. a multi-game suspension. It will be something NFL teams will have to monitor, and strongly consider, prior to signing Browner. As of right now, he’s heading toward unrestricted free agency in less than a week, and can sign with the team of his choosing.
Browner, who will be 30 years old before the regular season kicks off, is one of many free agent corners who could peak the Rams interest. Jeff Fisher may not shy away from taking a player who can make an immediate, potentially drastic, upgrade at a position…even with the off-field issues. His familiarity with the Seahawks certainly doesn’t hurt matters.
A hard-hitting veteran, coming off of an indefinite NFL suspension, who could still potentially miss games in 2014 certainly doesn’t sound like the most ideal free agency acquisition. But if Browner is allowed to participate in all the offseason activities, and all 16 of the regular season games, his price tag - even on a one-year deal - might make him an intriguing fit for St. Louis.
Browner seems relatively repentant, and eager to get back on the field. He can also do stuff like this…
UPDATE [10:50am EST]: ESPN’S Adam Schefter reports that Browner is expected to be suspended for "some length of time" to start the 2014 season.
UPDATE [4:55pm EST]:
NFL & NFLPA announce Brandon Browner has been “conditionally” reinstated from his indefinite suspension. Will serve 4-game suspension, too.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 5, 2014