He's just not going to receive a paycheck for a while.
According to a statement from the NFL and NFL Players' Association, via NFL.com, the 29-year-old corner will be suspended for the first four games of the 2014 regular season and forfeit an additional four weeks of pay after that.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello summed up the entire punishment for Browner, who missed five games in 2013 after being suspended indefinitely for violating the league's substance abuse policy:
Per Redskins source, Brandon Browner isn't in Washington. Club under the impression he might do a deal with the Patriots.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 14, 2014
Although he is still technically suspended from games, Browner, an unrestricted free agent starting March 11, will be able to participate in offseason and preseason activities, per the NFL's release.
And all things considered, that's absolutely huge.
Thought to be originally facing a one-year suspension for not submitting to drug tests while playing in the Canadian Football League, the Seattle Seahawks standout would have likely been out until around December—meaning he would miss all preseason activities, as well as at least two-thirds of the regular season.
Now, he gets to participate with his team and return by Week 5, and as Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio explained, missing four weeks isn't a big deal:
As explained during Wednesday’s PFT Live, teams aren’t all that bothered by a four-game suspension to start the season, since it allows them to carry an extra player on the roster for the first month of the season, delaying by four games the decision regarding the last man out the door as the roster plunges from up to 90 to 53.
With his suspension cut down significantly, Browner figures to draw plenty of interest in the open market.
He may be turning 30 years old by the start of the regular season, but this is a big, physical cornerback who proved to be productive in coverage and a valuable weapon on the outside against the run. In 36 games over the past three seasons with the 'Hawks, he recorded 10 interceptions, 39 pass deflections, 104 tackles and three forced fumbles, per Pro-Football-Reference.com.
Although Browner will have plenty of suitors in what has become a pass-heavy league, Cian Fahey suggested a potential destination that would fit both sides involved:
Source: CB Brandon Browner is still in the Boston-area as of this early morning, at this time.— Josina Anderson (@JosinaAnderson) March 14, 2014
Browner will be on a short leash, but with all of the details surrounding his once murky situation now officially cleared up you can expect the Vikings to have plenty of competition.