SEATTLE – The “hold in” for Seahawks left tackle Duane Brown may prove to be perceived as something of a win-win for each side.
The Seahawks held their ground in getting Brown to play this season without an extension or new money for 2021 or beyond.
But Brown did get some guarantees for the 2021 season of money that had been in bonuses. He also will get $2 million in case he cannot play in 2022 due to injury.
A source confirmed the new deal to The Seattle Times.
Brown, who practiced with the Seahawks for the first time on Monday, was due a $10 million base salary for 2021. He was due another $1 million in roster bonuses, payable for each game he is on the roster (or $58,823 per game). Brown also has another $350,000 in listed playing time incentives. And because, like all players, he can get paid for a 17th game this season with the addition to the NFL schedule, Brown could make almost $12 million this season.
He had not practiced on the field during the offseason program or training camp in hopes of getting an extension for the 2022 season and beyond.
But Brown turned 36 last week and has battled knee issues, among other injuries, and the Seahawks have told Brown they want him to play out this season and then talk about a new contract.
In something of a compromise, Brown agreed to return to practice this week after Seattle reworked his deal to guarantee the roster bonus. Specifically, Brown will get a $7 million signing bonus and $4 million in salary for this season.
He also will be guaranteed an injury protection for the 2022 season.
In a provision in NFL contracts, players get up to $2 million if they suffer an injury that does not allow them to play a season they are under contract for and then have their contract terminated. Brown would not qualify for that since he will be free agent after this season.
But the Seahawks guaranteed that provision, by adding a voidable year to Brown’s contract for 2022. That means that if Brown cannot play next year due to injury, he will get $2 million.
That money would go against the salary cap, which is one reason the Seahawks turned $7 million of his salary into bonus.
The void year allows for the bonus to be spread out over the 2021 and 2022 seasons, decreasing his cap hit for this year by $3.5 million. But it adds $3.5 million to the cap in 2022 and potentially the $2 million injury benefit, as well. Void years became increasingly common in contracts this season to account for a decreased salary cap due to COVID-19-related losses in revenue, with knowledge the cap will go up in 2022 and beyond. A void year is a “dummy” year written in the deal solely for the purposes of spreading out bonus or non-salary money.
Brown had a listed cap hit for the 2021 season of $13.29 million. The Seahawks had a listed cap of $7.69 million for 2021 heading into the day.
The reworked deal is similar to what the Seahawks did to end a holdout for Marshawn Lynch in 2014. That year, the Seahawks guaranteed $1 million in incentives for Lynch.
But Seattle has been a stickler on not giving extensions to players who hold out during the Pete Carroll/John Schneider era and held to that precedent here, notably Kam Chancellor in 2015 and Earl Thomas in 2018.
While Brown was not officially holding out – which would have made him susceptible to fines of up to $50,000 a day – Seattle wanted to get him back on the field without an extension and ultimately got that done.
Safety Jamal Adams also conducted a “hold in” before he signed his four-year extension last month. But in Adams’ case, the team was already talking to him about a new deal.
Brown also would have not earned his weekly game checks if he had declined to play in games.
Carroll had been vague when asked Monday if the team was working on any sort of contract enhancement for Brown, saying: “We’re really ready to play football right now. That’s where we are. Everything that needed to be taken care of is taken care of. Away we go.”
Brown had not practiced before Monday, when he put on a helmet and joined the rest of the team as warm-ups began.
Carroll said later that Brown will play Sunday in the opener against the Indianapolis Colts, adding that he thinks the rest might have done him good (Brown has rarely played in the preseason in recent years, anyway, and also often gets days off during the season to rest his knee).
“He’s ready to go,” Carroll said. “We’re pleased to have him. All in all, in the camp that he had he was able to put forth, he did all of the learning and he’s really healthy right now. I’m thrilled about that for him. One thing that we realized during the process of it is that we would not wear him down during camp, like any player. He’s got fresh legs coming in. He wants to play tight end. He probably won’t get that chance, but he’s asking.”
Brown was acquired by the Seahawks in a trade with Houston in October 2017 after holding out six games with the Texans. He then signed a three-year extension with Seattle prior to the 2018 season that carried him through the 2021 season with $16 million guaranteed and worth up to $34.5 million overall.
Brown has started 44 of a possible 48 regular-season games for Seattle since the 2018 season and 53 overall since becoming a Seahawk.