The Cleveland Browns have restructured quarterback Deshaun Watson’s massive contract, according to report from NFL reporter Ian Rapoport
Here’s what you need to know:
Ian Rapoport Reports the Browns Have Created Nearly $36 Million in Salary Cap Space
According to NFL reporter Rapoport, the Cleveland Browns have restructured Deshaun Watson’s contract and in doing so have cleared up nearly $36 million in salary cap space.
“The #Browns have restructured QB Deshaun Watson’s contract, creating nearly $36M in cap space, source said. The cap conversion gives plenty of room for Cleveland to work in free agency,” tweeted Rapoport on Monday, March 13.
When the Browns signed Watson in 2022, the former Houston Texans quarterback inked a fully guaranteed five-year contract for $230, which was the largest of its kind in the history of the NFL. At the time, Watson was still under investigation for sexually assaulting nearly two dozen women, and news of his contract was met with uproar from some fans.
Owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam released a statement at the time saying that they would respect the “due process” of the ongoing legal proceedings.
The statement read:
We are acutely aware and empathetic to the highly personal sentiments expressed about this decision. Our team’s comprehensive evaluation process was of utmost importance due to the sensitive nature of his situation and the complex factors involved. We also understand there are still some legal proceedings that are ongoing and we will respect due process.
It was pivotal that we, along with [general manager] Andrew Berry and [head coach] Kevin Stefanski, meet with Deshaun to have a straightforward dialogue, discuss our priorities, and hear directly from him on how he wants to approach his career on and off the field. He was humble, sincere, and candid. In our conversations, Deshaun detailed his commitment to leading our team; he understands and embraces the hard work needed to build his name both in the community and on the field.
Stefanski also released a statement in which he said that Watson is ready to “put in the hard work needed” to help the Browns improve and “make a positive impact in our community.”
Deshaun Watson’s Restructuring Most Likely Means They Are Moving Some of His Salary to a Signing Bonus
The way NFL contract restructuring generally works is that the team will convert some of the player’s salary to a signing bonus. Then the bonus can be amortized over the life of the contract and that in turn lowers the salary cap.
A simple restructure would convert the salary to signing bonus within the length of time the contract is for. A maximum restructure does that but also extends the contract or adds void years to the contract in order to get a little more time on the proration; those years push the prorated money into the time when the player becomes a free agent. The risky part of void years is that when the player does become a free agent, all that money goes onto the salary cap.
So, one way or the other, the team pays the money eventually. It can sometimes mean paying “dead” money to players long after they are past their prime.
But as Adam “The Bull” Gerstenhaber said on the Ultimate Cleveland Sports Show recently, the Browns have gone “all in on Deshaun Watson,” so they have to make this work because “it’s a disaster if it fails.”
Part of that is getting Watson another speedy wide receiver to spread out the field. It remains to be seen if the Browns will be trading for a marquee receiver or if they’ll be targeting one of the top receivers in the 2023 NFL draft with their 2nd-round pick.
Recent rumors have been that the Browns are showing interest in Odell Beckham Jr., who was with the team from 2019-2021. The Browns were among 12 teams that attended Beckham’s private workout in Arizona last week, according to CBS Sports.
Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot also reported over the weekend that Watson’s former teammate Brandin Cooks is likely going to be traded by the Texans and the Browns have him on their radar.