Reports: Deshaun Watson Takes a Big Financial Hit, a Year After Signing Record Breaking Contract With Cleveland Browns

Published 03/13/2023, 4:15 PM EDT

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When the Cleveland Browns brought in quarterback Deshaun Watson on a record-setting guaranteed signing last year, both Watson and the franchise knew that it would be next to impossible to meet the cap hit in 2023. And that’s just what happened. The Browns just cleared a lot of cash by restructuring their QB’s contract.

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According to the reports from NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, the Browns just cleared $36 million in cap space by cutting Deshaun’s 2023 payout and spreading it over the next four years.

Deshaun Watson’s contract restructured before the free agency window opens

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Cleveland acquired 27-year-old Watson last year on a $230 million/five-year signing from the Houston Texans in exchange for a first-round draft pick last year, first and third-round picks from this year, and the first and fourth-round picks from the 2024 NFL draft. This year, Watson had a pre-restructure cap hit of $54.993 million. And the Browns were already about $14 million above the league-regulated salary cap ahead of the NFL free agency’s ‘legal tampering period’ on March 15.

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However, Deshaun Watson has nothing to worry about in this entire scenario as his all of $230 million is guaranteed. So the question is not if he gets the money, but when and how. And instead of paying him the $46 million in salary, the Browns are opting to pay him $44.9 million in signing bonus and prorates, and $1.08 million as minimum salary in 2023. This helped the franchise get ready for free agency after clearing the $36 million cap room.

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Watson was also open to the deal after he heard Cleveland Browns GM, Andrew Berry, mention it during the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

Deshaun wanted the restructuring

When asked if a possible restructuring for Watson was inevitable, Berry said, “it could be on the table, but there’s a lot of flexibility in terms of what we can do.” And it didn’t take too long for the franchise to act.

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However, Deshaun doesn’t mind. This way, he gets the right ammunition around him to better his chances of making the playoffs this season. Amari Cooper definitely could use some help on the wide lines. And the Browns will also look to shop the defensive line market with the cap space available. They also cut safety John Johnson III, saving an additional $9.75 million.

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Cleveland’s franchise quarterback only played 6 games last season. He passed for 1102 yards with a 58.2% accuracy, throwing 7 touchdowns and 5 picks after missing 11 games because of the controversy surrounding his sexual misconduct allegations and lawsuits. Can Deshaun find the right match in the offense this time and take the team to postseason glory?

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Written by:

Soumyapriyo Ganguly

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Soumyapriyo Ganguly is an NFL writer at Essentially Sports. He holds a degree in Economics and Statistics from the Indian School of Business and Finance. Rivu is a sports nerd with his favorites being Soccer, American Football, Basketball, UFC, and Formula 1.
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Edited by:

Hitesh Nigam

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