Browns say Deshaun Watson’s contract wasn’t structured to help him if he’s suspended

Cleveland Browns Training Camp
Getty Images

The enormous new contract that the Browns gave Deshaun Watson was structured in a way that could protect Watson from the financial consequences if he’s suspended for sexually assaulting female massage therapists. But the Browns say that wasn’t the intent behind the structure of the contract.

Browns General Manager Andrew Berry said the contract giving Watson a huge $44.965 million signing bonus and a minimum base salary this season of $1.035 million was not intended to minimize Watson’s financial losses from a suspension. Berry said it was just a part of the Browns’ salary cap management.

Still, players who are suspended lose a portion of their base salaries but do not lose any portion of their signing bonuses, so if a player is going to be suspended, it’s to his advantage to have a big signing bonus combined with a low base salary. Berry acknowledged that it looked like the kind of contract a team would give a player to help him avoid losing money in a suspension.

“We understand the optics of it,” Berry said.

Berry also said there are basic club protections built into the contract, but he declined to give any details of what that means.

32 responses to “Browns say Deshaun Watson’s contract wasn’t structured to help him if he’s suspended

  1. Why is the truth such a hard concept for some? Say what it is. Watson and his agent demanded the first year low base salary because they know a suspension is coming and the Browns caved on that too.

  2. Why fail to mention here the very reasonable explanation that the base salary was low in 2022 is because it allowed flexibility this year and the possibility of dealing with the cap hit the team will occur for dealing with Mayfield’s $18.8 Million dollar salary. If they have to cut him Mayfield’s salary will be on the books this year along with Watsons $10 million dollar cap hit . Makes perfect sense to structure the low salary not as a way to offset the penalty of salary loss for Watson but for team cap purposes.

  3. What a bunch of bs. The browns brass including Watson just got up in front of the media and flat out lied for 20 minutes. Doubling down and defending the structure of the deal and Watson denying that he didn’t come to Cleveland because of the money despite turning them away a day earlier are my favorite lies. They deserve each other. Goodell better come down hard on them because they are making a mockery of the league.

  4. League should do their own sham investigation. Have it conclude after this season. Then suspend him in year 2. Teach him and anyone else that decides to circumvent repercussions.

  5. Look around the league…most of these guys with new big contracts are getting $1 million the first year to save salary cap for their teams. Aaron Rogers. Tyreek Hill. Christian Kirksey. It’s a rather long list. It’s salary cap math. Big signing bonus + small salary = low salary cap impact.

  6. This is common practice in big NFL contracts. A low year 1 contract allows them to push to resign other free agents and hold onto Baker’s 18M contract until he’s traded. And absolutely Watson’s team favored that move so it was win win for both.

  7. Who benefits from a low base salary in 2022? Watson does because he would lose very little money if suspended, this is very true. Also very true is a low base salary in 2022 along with the prorated portion of his signing bonus Watson has a very manageable $10 mill dollar cap hit in 2022 this would allow the Browns to cut Mayfield if a trade can not be made and the cap hit for both Watson and Mayfield if cut would only be $29 Million. If Watson did not have the low base salary in 2022 cutting Mayfield would be an action that results in other players losing there jobs in order to eat Mayfield’s contract. This s just very smart cap people doing there job and doing it well…Kudos to the Browns

  8. The Browns someone with a clear pathological deviation a fully guaranteed contract worth 25% of a billion dollars… think about how stupid that is.

  9. Browns and Commanders are in a nip and tuck race for most classless team. Who will win this competition?

  10. Browns say one thing, the structure of the contract says the exact opposite.

    Browns gonna Brown

  11. Browns have $26M in cap space. $44M if they can find a taker for Baker. Somehow they want us to think that applying just a $10M ($1M salary plus prorated bonus) cap hit to this year’s number was best for the team’s outlook? Fans aren’t stupid, this was another of the things they pitched to sell Deshaun on the idea of picking Cleveland over the other options that wanted him.

  12. The Browns’ are lying and Watson is lying. This is a match made in dysfunctional purgatory, exactly where the Browns have been for the last 20 years.

  13. For Andrew Berry to stand up there and lie like that to the press and to his fan base and to NFL fans speaks directly to his character.

    For his sake I hope he lasts longer in Cleveland than other GMs and HCs, because he won’t get a second bite at the apple after today’s performance.

  14. It all depends on the narrative or agenda the person making judgment on the situation has. The Salary structure was done in a way that allows for broad painting either way. Smart money would be on the obvious…. We may have to cut Mayfield and eat almost $19 Million. The only thing that allows us to do this while managing the cap was a structure that had Watson having a low base salary in 2022. If we have to we can cut Mayfield and have Watson in 2022 for a total of $29 Million. Why would the Browns use cap space for a player in Watson in 2022 when he could face a multiple game suspension when that money can be used against the cap on players that will actually play. Seeing it any other way is agenda driven when you dismiss that the NFL is a business……People who claim it was done to help Watson not be penalized are making emotionally driven responses that lack anything to back it up.

  15. Gotta handy it to the Browns, they hooked Watson up but I still don’t see this having a happy ending

  16. The Browns and Watson will be holding a morals and ethics workshop if anybody would like to sign up.

  17. It seems the NFL could, if they choose, issue a finite fine instead of a per game suspension forfeiture, such as whatever # of games they decide on. Not sure if the CBA allows it, but it seems the NFL has broad authority for fining players (boy do they ever) for conduct detrimental, not only to the team, but to the league as well. Does it have to be tied to missed games only?

  18. Who cares? The big moral conundrum was signing Watson at all, and Jimmy Haslam proved that ethics and morals aren’t things that trouble him. Why is anyone surprised that they structured his contract this way? Of course it’s to help him with a suspension.

    I’ve got all my disappointment and disgust wrapped up in the trade and his mega-deal. If he’s not financially hurt by a suspension, who’s really shocked by that?

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.