The team is bringing Brandon Browner back on a one-year deal. The 31-year-old cornerback spent three seasons (2011 to 2013) with the Seahawks before signing with the New England Patriots. Browner spent last season with the New Orleans Saints but was released in March.
The questions now for the Seahawks: How does he fit in? And what does he have left?
Let's start with the latter. Browner started 16 games last season and struggled. He was called for 24 penalties, which were eight more than anyone else in 2015 and the most of any player since 2001, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He'll turn 32 in August. The hope for a rebound with the Seahawks is based on a couple factors.
No. 1: Browner said he was playing through a torn MCL last season. And secondly, the Seahawks likely believe they can cater to Browner's strengths better than the Saints did.
"For us to have had success, one of those things last year defensively was for him to have played well and us to have given him a chance to play well. Because he’s a leader that’s wanting to lead," said Saints coach Sean Payton, according to ESPN's Mike Triplett. "And it’s hard when you’re becoming a target, it’s hard to do that.
"But I think there were a lot of hands in that specifically. No different than the quarterback that’s not getting the time [in the pocket to scan the field and throw]."
As for fit, the expectation seems to be for Browner to compete for playing time, and he very well could be competing for a roster spot. That will be more clear when contract details are revealed.
Earlier this offseason, the Seahawks signed Jeremy Lane to a four-year, $23 million deal. During the owners meetings last month, head coach Pete Carroll seemed to like the idea of using Lane and DeShawn Shead in tandem at right cornerback and nickel.
"Really thought DeShawn Shead did a great job last year," Carroll said. "But I think the combination of Jeremy and DeShawn gives us two different style corners, and both those guys play the nickel spot. It allows us to flip guys around matchup-wise. Richard [Sherman] as well, as we did last year. So we have all the flexibility, the best flexibility we’ve ever had, and it allows us to go into the draft and not have to be concerned about having to get a guy. With the young competition that we have, we think that it’s a pretty strong position for us."
Could Browner compete for a starting job? Sure. But he would have to earn it. The Seahawks have other capable options to fill that role.
The other possibility is that Browner could snag a depth spot and be used in specialized situations. Given his size (6-foot-4, 221 pounds), could Browner be used in specific matchups against tight ends? The Seahawks finished 26th at covering opposing tight ends last year, according to Football Outsiders.
Or perhaps Browner could be used in specific situations against big, physical wide receivers. Triplett noted that some of Browner's best moments last year came against guys like Calvin Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins.
The important thing here is that Browner is not being brought in to be a savior. The Seahawks' defense led the NFL in fewest points allowed last year and ranked third against the pass. They did so while starting three different players at right cornerback: Cary Williams, Shead and Lane.
Like the Chris Clemons deal, the Seahawks are taking a flier on Browner. If he has something left, the Seahawks' coaching staff feels like it will be able to maximize Browner's strengths. If it doesn't work out, the team feels like it's still in good shape with other options.