Seahawks cornerback Walter Thurmond is suspended four games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.
According the the report, Thurmond is appealing the suspension but plans to drop it next week so he can return for a playoff run, meaning he will miss Seattle’s next four games. The reports say Thurmond is being suspended for non-performance enhancing drugs.
The loss of Thurmond is an especially costly blow for the Seahawks because he recently assumed starting cornerback duties opposite Richard Sherman after Brandon Browner went down with a groin injury. The Seahawks are still hoping to get Browner back this year, but he’s is expected to be out at least four to six weeks.
Byron Maxwell, Seattle’s fourth cornerback to the start the year, is the likely starter moving forward. Jeremy Lane, the team’s fifth cornerback, will likely take over nickel duties when the Seahawks want to play five cornerbacks.
Thurmond, a fourth-year player taken in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, battled injuries throughout his first three years. He generated positive reviews when he was on the field, but he played just eight games in his last two seasons.
He was one of the breakout players of training camp this year and played so well the Seahawks released veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield before the season because they felt comfortable with Thurmond.
He started three games in Browner’s absence this season and returned an interception for a touchdown in Seattle’s win against Minnesota last Sunday.
He is scheduled to become a free agent at the end of this season, as is Browner.
The loss of Thurmond and the injury to Browner leaves Seattle with just three healthy cornerbacks on its active roster at the moment — Sherman, Lane and Maxwell.
To add to the depth, Seattle might call up DeShawn Shean off the practice squad, who has been making a reported $8,500 a week on the practice squad instead of the required $6,000 as an inducement to keep him with the Seahawks. He can play both corner and safety.
Rookie fourth-round pick Tharold Simon is also expected to begin practice this week, having been out since the spring while rehabbing a foot injury. He could be an option, as well, though that might be a lot to ask for a player who has yet to take part in an NFL practice.
Thurmond is now the sixth player to be suspended for violating the NFL’s drug policy — the other five were for performance enhancing drugs — since 2011. That number includes linebacker Bruce Irvin, who missed the first four games of this season for PED use.
Seattle played last year without Browner for the last four games after he suspended for PED use, something Sherman recalled in comments he made this morning on the situation while a guest on FOX Football Daily.
“I think we move forward strong,” Sherman said. “We played like this before. We played like this the end of last year. We played four games with myself, Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane and we won those games by a considerable amount. So I think we will be fine. It will be great to get him back before the playoffs and make sure he gets his feet back under him. But I think we will get past it.”
Seattle has been hoping to not need to put Browner on IR hoping he could get healthy in time for the playoffs.
If Thurmond sits out the next four games, he will miss contests against New Orleans, at San Francisco, the New York Giants and Arizona, but could then return for the final home game against the Rams on Dec. 29.
And here are some Tweets from receiver Doug Baldwin indicating Thurmond’s teammates will support him through this:
And Irvin Tweeted this: