“He’s ready to go,” coach Pete Carroll said Monday before confirming that Brown will play against the Indianapolis Colts. “And we’re pleased to have him.”
Carroll gave an indirect answer when asked if the team and Brown’s agent are discussing any changes to his contract, which has one year left.
“We’re really ready to play football right now,” Carroll said. “That’s where we are and everything that needed to be taken care of is taken care of and away we go.”
The Seahawks and Brown have discussed potential solutions to his situation in recent days, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. Seattle doesn’t plan to extend him but has discussed adjustments to his final year.
Carroll spoke with reporters after Brown practiced for the first time this offseason. He had been taking part in team meetings and walk-throughs but wasn’t practicing in the absence of a new deal. As he walked onto the field Monday at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center, Brown playfully grabbed free safety Quandre Diggs and shared an embrace with defensive end Carlos Dunlap II, who then clapped as Brown made his way into the stretching line.
Diggs also returned to practice Monday. He said last week that he expected to be back soon and play in the opener once he finalized a personal financial matter, which was reportedly an insurance policy.
Brown’s return seemed likely when Carroll projected confidence last week that he’d be available for the opener, saying: “I’m counting on him being ready.” But that comment fell short of a declaration that Brown would play against Indianapolis.
“He’s really healthy right now and I’m really thrilled about that for him,” Carroll said Monday. “It was one of the things we realized about the process of it that we would not wear him down at all during camp. … So he’s got fresh legs coming in. He wants to play tight end. We probably won’t get that chance, but he’s asking.”
Brown has been seeking a new contract for much of his offseason as he enters the final year of his three-year, $34.5 million extension. The $11.5 million average of that 2018 deal now ranks 16th among left tackles, per Spotrac.
Brown has made four Pro Bowls in 14 seasons, ranked second among tackles last season in ESPN’s pass block win rate and has been the unquestioned leader of Seattle’s offensive line. But he turned 36 last week, has dealt with knee issues in recent seasons and has had his workload in practice heavily managed. The Seahawks have thus been of the mind that he’s at the stage of his career in which it makes the most sense to take a year-to-year approach with his contract.
Brown has been scheduled to make up to $11.5 million in 2021 — a $10 million base salary, $1 million in per-game roster bonuses and $500,000 in incentives. The $10 million base salary amounts to game checks worth more than $550,000 that he would forfeit for each game he refused to play in during the regular season.
The uncertainty with Brown had quarterback Russell Wilson feeling nervous about the prospect of playing without his best offensive lineman. Pass protection was among the biggest issues that led to Wilson’s frustration with the organization to bubble to the surface in February, which added an underlying layer of significance to Brown’s situation.
“We’ve got to figure that out because we need Duane Brown,” Wilson said on Aug. 8.
While Brown and Diggs are back, tight end Colby Parkinson will not play Sunday as he continues to recover from his foot injury, Carroll said. The Seahawks promoted Tyler Mabry from their practice squad to give them a third healthy tight end as Parkinson continues to work his way back.