On Sunday it was reported was the Seattle Seahawks cornerback Walter Thurmond III was facing a four game suspension for a non-PED violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. That news was quickly forgotten yesterday, when it was announced the starting corner Brandon Browner was facing a year long suspension for a second violation of the league’s PED policy.
This is huge news that is crippling to Seattle’s secondary, which is the best in the league when fully intact. Thurmond will reportedly drop his appeal and serve his suspension now so that he is available for the playoffs. Browner, who was going to be out until mid December with groin injury anyway, does not have that option. With his contract set to expire after this season, Browner’s days in Seattle are likely over.
Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane will take over for Browner and Thurmond, and although both are solid players, there is a reason they are backups. Of course, Seattle still has Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, who are all arguably the best in the league at their position. The Seahawks are 2nd in the NFL in pass yards allowed per game and tied for 1st in interceptions, but there is bound to be some drop-off in production without two of their top three corners.
Seattle will face heavy tests in their next two games, a home contest with the New Orleans Saints this week and a road trip to play the San Francisco 49ers after that. The secondary will have to perform in those games, and losses could cost Seattle the No. 1 seed and possibly even the division. Of course, Seattle is the best team in the NFL for more reasons than just its secondary, but their defense relies heavily on its ability to play man to man coverage and shut down the pass.
These suspensions are not going to cost Seattle its playoff spot, and they don’t change the fact that they are a Super Bowl contender. However, this news certainly closes the gap between the Seahawks and the 49ers, Saints and Carolina Panthers, and it could end up hurting them in terms of playoff positioning down the stretch. Seattle has had more drug related suspensions than any team in the NFL over the last few seasons, and the latest two could be the most costly of all.