Per a source with knowledge of the structure of the deal, the Browns converted a significant amount of Beckham’s remaining salary to a roster bonus due next week.
Thus, if he’s claimed on waivers, he gets the remaining salary and the roster bonus from his new team. If he becomes a free agent, the Browns are on the hook for the remaining salary but not the roster bonus.
It’s believed that the roster bonus is in the range of $3 million, which would put the salary in the range of $4.25 million.
If claimed on waivers, Beckham gets it all from his next team. If unclaimed, he gets his remaining Browns salary (but not the roster bonus) plus whatever he gets from his next team for the rest of 2021. And he breaks even if he gets the amount of the roster bonus as salary from his next team.
As the source explained it, Beckham took the deal because Cleveland could have converted the balance of his remaining salary to a signing bonus, reducing his base salary to the minimum and making it much more likely that he’d be claimed on waivers by a team for which he’d rather not play. That was, at the end of the day, the leverage the Browns had to get him to agree to a structure that will help the Browns save some money.
The Browns will save, at a minimum, the amount of the roster bonus. If someone claims the contract on waivers, the Browns will save it all.