Seattle Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner announced the news Tuesday he'd been waiting months to hear, and he didn't need to set foot in a courtroom to do it.
The NFL has reinstated Browner, who can become an unrestricted free agent next week, two people with knowledge of the decision confirmed to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because the league hadn't addressed the issue publicly.
"I realize now more than ever that being part of the NFL is not a right, but a privilege," Browner said in a statement posted on his Twitter account.
"I am grateful that Commissioner (Roger) Goodell and my agent (Peter Schaffer) were able to resolve this issue in a positive, productive manner so I can continue my career, provide for my family, and help my team win a Super Bowl.
"Thank you to all who have gone out of their way to show their support. I will live up to your expectations of me."
One of the people said Browner's suspension was lifted as part of a settlement deal that was expected to include a multiple-game ban to start the 2014 season, though the person hadn't seen terms of the final agreement.
The settlement allows Browner, 29, to sign with a team next week and participate in all offseason activities, including preseason games, which wouldn't have been allowed if the original suspension stood.
The league suspended Browner in December for violating its substance-abuse policy and announced he'd be eligible to apply for reinstatement in one year.
Last week, Schaffer said he planned to sue the NFL in federal court to lift the suspension, claiming Browner was unfairly moved from Stage One to Stage Three of the substance-abuse policy for failing to cooperate with three tests while he was out of the league in 2006.
Tuesday's reinstatement means the lawsuit won't be filed, one of the people said. And the end result is what Browner wanted anyway: he'll hit the free-agent market March 11.
An NFL spokesman did not respond to a message. A union spokesman said the NFL Players Association had been involved in the negotiations.
Browner lost his initial appeal and was suspended Dec. 18. Under the collective bargaining agreement, he then had a right to file a process appeal back to Goodell.
Browner admits he failed two drug tests for marijuana, including one in December. But he told USA TODAY Sports in an interview before the Super Bowl he felt the enforcement of the policy was unfair and the league never offered him support.
"It totally sucks," Browner said then. "If (you thought) I had a problem, you should be helping me."
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