The Seattle Seahawks will officially re-sign Brandon Browner to the 2016 team Monday, the 18th of April. He joins Chris Clemons as the second member of Pete Carroll's early, ferocious young defenses to return to Seattle after several up-and-down years away. No doubt, like Clemons, he will be expected to compete in camp for a roster spot. This is another low-risk, medium-reward move by the Seahawks, and it's difficult to construe these two signings as anything other than positive for the team.
That said, while both are decent signings per se, might it not mean something that the team chose to bring back Browner and Clemons specifically? The Seahawks always bring veterans into camp to compete with and push the younger players. Why, however, are two of the veterans in question this year Clemons and Browner, both key members of Seattle's Super Bowl winning squad in 2013? Certainly there were other veterans of significant ability on the market. So, again, why Clemons and Browner?
The Seahawks rarely repeat themselves. They innovate. Pete Carroll and John Schneider, as exemplified in their ceaseless churning of the team's roster, know well that in the NFL, much like certain species of sharks, you have to keep moving to stay alive.
One consideration is that the Seahawks want to get tougher. Bringing back Browner and Clemons is, if nothing else, a move in that direction: why not re-sign some notoriously tough players, players who play not just hard but with an attitude, and who are cheap and available? The Seahawks are familiar with these guys; they know what they're going to get by bringing them into camp. Browner and Clemons are known, even safe commodities.
But that's precisely what's curious about the moves. Since when do Pete Carroll and John Schneider play it safe? The Seahawks are familiar with these players now, but they weren't when they originally picked them up. When the Seahawks first brought in Browner and Clemons, they were bringing in hungry, younger guys who were more or less unknown in the league at the time. Seattle was banking on potential. Now Clemons and Browner are returning as veterans, older players who are expected to set an example for the new recruits (Chris Clemons is 34 years old, Brandon Browner will be 32 before the start of the new season).
Browner and Clemons are both products of Seattle's system, and will no doubt impress Pete Carroll's culture on the younger players. But why do Pete Carroll and John Schneider consider a move to shore up the organizational culture necessary, or even advisable? Sure, the two players will compete and maybe even play a role on the team next year. That said, PCJS could have brought in many different veterans to do the same. Why not take a flyer on some young talent, or take the opportunity to evaluate other veterans who may bring different but still valuable skill sets to the team? Was the Cary Williams experience so terrifying? It seems very unlike Pete Carroll and John Schneider to feel the need to return to past players in order to fill a leadership vacuum.
There is no problem with the signings in and of themselves. Again, they are very low risk. What is interesting, however, is what they may signify in a larger sense as regards the overall health of the team's culture. Also, it's a bit surprising that Pete Carroll and John Schneider would so readily return to the well. It argues that they are at least somewhat concerned about the talent that they currently have on the team. The two reasons to bring back Clemons and Browner, veteran leadership and contributing roles, both point to deficiencies in maturity and ability that Carroll and Schneider must have identified on the current roster.
Or maybe Browner and Clemons are just really good at crushing the players in different colored jerseys. That could be it too.