As Duane Brown gutted through the 2019 season, slowed by upper and lower body injuries and eventually getting knee surgery to trim his meniscus, his place on the 2020 Seahawks seemed increasingly uncertain—despite the lack of an heir on the roster. However, with D.J. Fluker and Justin Britt released and Brown carrying what would have been a sizable dead cap hit for the ‘20 season, the veteran left tackle stayed in place as Seattle’s left tackle entering the season.
And thank goodness for that.
Brown has been absolutely tremendous through the first half of the season, clearly healthier than a season ago and thriving as a result. Not only has Brown continued to be a sound, steady presence in pass protection at left tackle, but his ability to pull and move in space in the running game is vital and has led to a handful of splashy plays—perhaps none bigger than Carlos Hyde’s 24-yard touchdown scamper against the Cardinals.
Through seven games, Brown’s numbers are pristine. He’s currently tied for fourth in ESPN’s pass-block win rate, at 94%, along with possibly the best tackle alive in David Bakhtiari and another ageless wonder, Andrew Whitworth. Brown has been charted with just a single sack allowed on the year, against Aldon Smith. According to Sports Info Solutions, Brown has blown just four blocks all season, which accounts for one percent of his total snaps.
With Mike Iupati out of the lineup with a back injury and three new starters down the line from him in Ethan Pocic, Damien Lewis, and Brandon Shell, Brown has served as the steadying force, the reliable left tackle you simply never have to think about. Whether he’s on an island against the opposing team’s top pass rusher or moving into space to get on a linebacker at the second level, Brown has shown no signs of decline. And as Whitworth, now in his age-38 season, has proved, Brown’s level of play can be maintained beyond this year.
At 35 years old, with $11 million in cap savings and just a $2 million dead cap hit on the table for 2021, it was entirely fair to enter this season expecting it to be Brown’s last with the Seahawks. However, provided Brown is healthy and wants to continue to play, that must be reconsidered. With a cap hit of $13 million in 2021, Brown is currently in line to be the fifteenth-highest paid tackle next season. With his level of play to begin 2020, that looks set to be a bargain.