RENTON, Washington – A left Pro Bowl not training because they want a new contract is a big deal in itself.
It’s even bigger when the franchise quarterback, already frustrated with the team’s problems with passport protection, puts public pressure on the front office to resolve the situation.
The Russell-Wilson drama from earlier this off-season adds another layer of meaning to Duane Brown’s contract battle with the Seattle Seahawks. It was underlined on Sunday when Wilson described his absence as “quite significant” and added, “We have to find out because we need Duane Brown.”
All of this comes as the Seahawks deal with yet another “hold-in” to safety Jamal Adams, who, like Brown, is at training camp but not training in the absence of a new deal. The Seahawks want to extend Adams and are working on a deal. Brown’s situation is less clear.
Here’s a closer look:
What is Brown’s current contract like?
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He enters the final year of the $ 34.5 million three-year extension he signed in the summer of 2018. He plans to pay him $ 10 million base salary, up to $ 1 million in roster bonuses per game, and up to $ 500,000 in incentives this year.
The annual average of $ 11.5 million from Brown’s 2018 expansion now ranks 16th among left tackles, according to Spotrac data. But his salary of $ 10 million for 2021 is the fourth highest in that position.
The Seahawks did not make Brown available for reporters this off-season, so he has yet to speak publicly on the matter. But it’s safe to say he’s looking for a raise and some security beyond 2021.
The Seahawks are not currently discussing a new deal with Brown, a source told ESPN.
Is the Adams situation holding things up?
If it was certain that the Seahawks wanted to extend Brown, then that would be the case. NFL teams generally don’t negotiate more than one major contract at a time, and Adams is a top priority so Brown would have to wait his turn.
But it’s not clear if an extension is even in their plans when Adams’ deal is finalized.
What is Brown’s case for a new deal?
In his mid-30s he is playing at an exceptional level. Brown never missed a game last season, finishing second on ESPN’s pass block win rate as an offensive tackle behind Los Angeles Rams’ Andrew Whitworth, who is 39 years old. Brown ranks fifth in PBWR as of 2018. Whitworth is first.
Brown’s agent, Kennard McGuire, can credibly argue that Brown’s contract is out of date because of his level of play and all the left tackles whose annual averages have since surpassed his. He could also cite Whitworth as evidence that a left tackle can maintain a high level of play well into his late 30s.
Brown is the leader of Seattle’s offensive line, which offers value.
So why should the Seahawks be careful about extending it?
Brown will be 36 years old by the end of this month. And while his recent availability track record is strong – including the playoffs – he’s played 47 out of a possible 52 games since 2018 – he’s dealt with knee problems and the Seahawks have had to deal with his workload in training.
They didn’t draw much value from some of the third contracts they’ve given veteran players in the past few years, namely Marshawn Lynch, Michael Bennett, and Kam Chancellor. This would be Brown’s fourth contract, so he’s at a point in his career where the team would rather switch from year to year instead.
Any fears about paying Brown wouldn’t be about instant cap space. Extending it now could actually lower its planned $ 13.3 million ceiling. It would be about allocating significant long-term capital and cash to an aging player.
What should we think of Wilson’s recent comments?
According to sources, some of Seattle’s offensive linemen weren’t happy when Wilson publicly voiced his frustration in February with all of the punches and sacks he’d taken. That gives him another reason to extend an olive branch and tree stump for Brown like he did on Sunday.
Out @Sport Center earlier today, in conversation with @MattBarrie about Duane Brown wanting a new deal from the Seahawks, why it’s not clear if they’ll give him one, and how the Russell-Wilson situation adds another layer to that. pic.twitter.com/CN2cbgHY7s
– Brady Henderson (@BradyHenderson) August 9, 2021
More than anything, however, Wilson expressed how much he wanted Brown to protect his blind side. Passport protection was perhaps his biggest point of contention with the organization, and now he’s practicing without his best passport protection. There’s been a massive drop by Brown on each of their backup options – including Jamarco Jones, Cedric Ogbuehi, and Stone Forsythe – as is the case with any team that has a Pro Bowl-caliber left tackle.
Wilson, who played behind untested young players and seasoned stopgaps for a season and a half before Seattle Brown took over, doesn’t want to see what life is like without him.
So what happens from here?
Because Brown reported on time and attends everything but training, Brown is not subject to the $ 50,000 daily fines that the NFL’s collective agreement provides for seasoned players outside of training camp. There is now no financial incentive to stop practicing.
Seahawks manager Pete Carroll said Brown would not have played the preseason as the team is trying to get him into the regular season. That assumes he’s not so determined to get a new deal that he’d be willing to miss out on real games if he doesn’t get one.
It’s hard to tell without hearing from Brown. But if he were buried like that, he would probably hold out now instead of staying.