Brandon Browner's indefinite suspension from the NFL is over, but the lanky cornerback will still miss the first four games of the 2014 season. He's free to sign with any NFL team when free agency starts next week.
The NFL and NFL Players Association released a joint statement Wednesday saying Browner was conditionally reinstated from his suspension for violating the substance abuse policy.
"Should he comply with the terms of the Substance Abuse Policy and Program, he will be fully reinstated after serving a four-game suspension without pay at the start of the 2014 regular season and forfeiting an additional four weeks of pay," the statement said.
Whatever team signs Browner won't have to pay him during the first four weeks, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per a league source. That team will have pay him for the next four weeks, but that money will be turned over to the league.
Browner first announced the news Tuesday via Twitter, but without the full details of his reinstatement.
"I received wonderful news today," Browner said on his verified Twitter account. "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."
Browner played the last three seasons with the Seattle Seahawks after suiting up for four seasons in the CFL. The reinstatement comes as a surprise. The last we heard from Browner's camp, his agent Peter Schaffer was threatening to sue the NFL.
"I realize now more than ever that being part of the NFL is not a right, but a privilege," Browner tweeted Tuesday.
"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."
NFL Media columnist Michael Silver reported in November that the suspension would end Browner's career in Seattle. The team has quality depth at the position with Byron Maxwell stepping up late in the season, although teammate Walter Thurmond also is a free agent.
Browner joins a crowded list of available cornerbacks. Teams are looking for tall, physical cornerbacks, but it's not a great sign that the Seahawks seem so willing say goodbye to the 30-year-old. His four-game suspension to start the season will inevitably hurt his market value, but he will sneak on to the end of our top 101 free agents available.