Update, 9:45 a.m.
New Orleans Saints defensive back Brandon Browner tweeted farewell and posted a lengthy goodbye to the city of New Orleans on Instagram early Friday morning.
If New Orleans has decided to release Browner, the move won’t be official for a few more days. The Saints cannot officially release Browner until Monday, the day after the Super Bowl.
Browner was signed last March to a three-year, $15 million deal to shore up the starting cornerback position opposite Keenan Lewis, a spot that had been a revolving door during the 2014 season.
But Browner failed to live up to his free-agent contract when left alone in man-to-man coverage, and a career-long penchant for drawing penalties hurt the Saints beyond his coverage duties.
Browner was flagged an NFL-record 24 times in 2015 – the third time he’s led the league in penalties – and the Saints as a whole set a team record by allowing 54 first downs by penalty, obliterating the team’s previous high of 38, set in 2011.
New Orleans largely stuck by Browner publicly after the team voted him a captain, although new defensive coordinator Dennis Allen admitted late in the season that the veteran had struggled at times.
“I don’t think he’s much different than where we’ve been as a defense,” Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen said. “I think there’s games where he played exceptionally well, and then there’s obviously been games where he hasn’t played quite as well.”
The veteran cornerback also had a tenuous relationship with the media, unleashing a profanity-laced tirade at reporters after the Saints’ loss to Tennessee and subsequently declining interview requests for much of the last month of the season.
If the Saints plan to release Browner outright, there will be little salary-cap relief. Browner is still due $2.6 million in signing bonus and owed a guaranteed salary of $2.75 million for the 2016 season, meaning New Orleans will save only $950,000 by releasing Browner outright.
New Orleans will save $750,000 of a roster bonus that would have been paid on March 11.
But Browner would still count $5.35 million against the cap in dead money next season, adding to a total that already still includes $12.1 million of Junior Galette’s contract.
Saints coach Sean Payton said shortly after the season that the only regrets New Orleans has in free agency or roster-building are the ones that produce dead money on the salary cap.
“I think that the regrets are hindsight, and they would always be money that would be considered dead money,” Payton said in his postseason press conference.
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