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Brandon Browner reinstated; will Seahawks want him back?

Brandon Browner during a preseason game against the San Diego Chargers on Aug. 8, 2013
Brandon Browner during a preseason game against the San Diego Chargers on Aug. 8, 2013
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The Seahawks just can't lose.

Almost exactly a month after they blew out Denver 43-8 in the Super Bowl without Brandon Browner, the former Pro Bowl cornerback beat the NFL just in time to become a free agent.

Browner's indefinite suspension was lifted Tuesday by the league, which faced the prospect of losing a lawsuit from Browner over the circumstances surrounding the suspension.

"I received wonderful news today," Browner tweeted. "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."

Browner, 29, was suspended indefinitely in December after a positive drug test – reportedly for smoking marijuana.

As the case unfolded last season, the NFL reportedly offered Browner the chance to return after eight games next season, but Browner declined as he sought to have his record completely expunged.

Via Twitter, Browner's agent, Peter Schaffer, referenced John Paul Jones' famous line during the Revolutionary War: "I have not yet begun to fight." And Browner himself indicated he would take his case to court, tweeting: "I believe in my innocence and will continue to fight with all legal resources available to me."

He was set to sue the league over being placed in Stage 3 of the substance-abuse program while he played in the CFL from 2007 to 2010. The league obviously decided it would lose that case.

Browner's appeal was based on extenuating circumstances. Several corroborating reports indicate he was in the league's drug program in 2006 when the Denver Broncos cut him. But he fell off the NFL grid when he went to Canada and played in the CFL from 2007 to 2010. Missed tests with the NFL during that time counted against him, and he was therefore placed in Stage 3 of the league's program when he signed with the Seahawks in 2011.

A positive test while in Stage 3 results in an indefinite suspension, which is what he received when he reportedly turned down a lesser offer.

In December, Browner was contrite about his mistake.

He tweeted: "I want to thank the Seahawks organization for the incredible opportunity they gave me when they took a chance on a player who was out of the NFL and playing in the CFL for four years. I also want to thank all of my teammates, coaches, trainers, staff and the 12s for their support, respect and friendship and for helping me grow into the player, father and person I am today. I have been treated with nothing but first class by everyone associated with the Seattle Seahawks and for that I am forever grateful.

"Although I disagree with the circumstances surrounding my suspension, I accept responsibility for all of my actions and I apologize for any that causes any unflattering reflections of my family and the Seahawks."

Browner obviously had a strong case or the league would never have backed down. And now the 29-year-old cornerback will join the rest of Seattle's free agents on March 11.

Will the Seahawks be interested in re-signing Browner? It's certainly possible, considering they are probably going to lose Walter Thurmond. But they probably will let Browner test the market and – if he gets no offers he likes – revisit him after they have dealt with more pressing matters.

It wouldn't be stunning to see the Hawks bring Browner back. But he also will be 30 in August and the team might want to move on to younger players – and guys who aren't one strike away from a lifetime ban.