Deshaun Watson’s contract contains exception to “typical club protections” in event of suspension

Cleveland Browns Introduce Quarterback Deshaun Watson
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When the Browns traded for Deshaun Watson three weeks ago today, we were told that his new contract will contain modifications to the standard language that would void guaranteed payments and/or trigger the default of signing bonus money previously paid. When the Browns officially introduced Watson two weeks ago today, G.M. Andrew Berry was asked whether Watson’s fully-guaranteed contract remains guaranteed in the event of a suspension.

“Again, I won’t go into all of the specifics with the contract, but we do have our language within the contract that does offer I would say typical club protections,” Berry said.

We’ve obtained a copy of the contract. It does indeed include “typical club protections.” However, it also includes a major exception to those “typical club protections.”

Each paragraph of the addendum to the agreement that contains guaranteed payments — No. 26 (2022 salary), No. 27 (2023 salary), No. 28 (2024 salary), No. 29 (2025 salary), No. 30 (2026 salary) — and the signing bonus addendum include language exempting from any potential default a suspension imposed by the league “solely in connection with matters disclosed to Club in writing pursuant to paragraph 42 and such suspension results in Player’s unavailability to Club solely for games during the 2022 or 2023 NFL League Years.”

In paragraph 42, Watson “represents and warrants (except as disclosed to club in writing), as of the date hereof, that (i) Player has not been charged with, indicted for, convicted of or pled nolo contender to any felony and/or misdemeanor involving fraud or moral turpitude, (ii) Player has not engaged in conduct which would subject him to a charge, indictment or conviction of any such offense, and (iii) no circumstances exist that would prevent Player’s continuing availability to the Club for the duration of this Contract.”

The written disclosure made by Watson to the Browns isn’t contained in the contract. A source with knowledge of the written disclosure says it’s a “fair assumption” that it refers to the 22 pending civil lawsuits.

Here’s where it gets interesting, and potentially risky, for Watson. What if he eventually admits to having consensual sexual encounters with one or more of the 18 massage therapists who issued statements of support on his behalf? Earlier this week, a judge concluded that Watson must answer whether he did indeed have sexual encounters with any, some, or all of those 18 women.

If Watson admits to having sexual encounters with any, some, or all of those 18 women, could that get him suspended, regardless of the outcome of the investigation regarding the 22 massage therapists who accuse him of wrongdoing? The Commissioner could decide that Watson should miss games without pay as part of the effort to intervene and to resolve the behaviors that resulted in Watson repeatedly (if the evidence supports that conclusion) using massage sessions as cover for the solicitation of prostitution. If that occurs, and if that specific wrinkle hasn’t been included in the written disclosure mentioned in Watson’s contract, the Browns possibly would be able to void his guarantees and/or to recover a portion of his signing bonus, if it so chooses.

Finally, the contract presumes that Watson will be suspended in 2022 or 2023. For any suspension imposed after 2023, the default language would apply, no matter what.

24 responses to “Deshaun Watson’s contract contains exception to “typical club protections” in event of suspension

  1. No one should be surprised that the Browns have language in the contract that protects them to some degree. No team, not even a poorly run team, would sign a guy with pending litigation such as the type that is hanging over Watson’s head, to a mega guaranteed contract without protecting themselves financially. I think this is why Cleveland won’t let Baker walk right now, because I think they know Watson is going to be suspended before the year begins. I don’t think this is going to end well for the Browns

  2. According to over the cap contracts typically will have a provision excluding NFL punishment related to these women. Now if more victims come forward and Watson has not revealed them, then his guarantees could be voided.

    Even if he’s suspended for 6 games, the Browns will keep him and pay him.
    They gave up a ton of picks, he’s not getting cut by them.

  3. Does this answer the question .. how much caution were the Browns ready to toss to the wind to make this deal!?

  4. So, his contract is not “Fully Guaranteed” after all.
    But the media told us it was……..smh
    Did anyone with half a brain think they would pony up that kind of money without protection ?

  5. Ridiculous for anyone to be suspended for NOT violating anyone’s consent. Still, the league and the owners of the teams get to decide how to operate their business, but it is still ridiculous anyways.

  6. Thanks Cleveland, we will make great use of the draft pick we got in the Watson trade! Good luck with Watson, y’all will need it!

  7. Even if it was all consensual, having sex with a stranger and then handing them cash for their “services” is prostitution.

  8. If Watson is using the massages as a cover for prostitution, that puts him in the same category as Kraft.

    Didn’t Kraft avoid any penalties from the NFL?

  9. Mayfield should sit out camp and force MGMT. to sweeten the pot and we will see who the adult in the room is really.

  10. Look for a long suspension for Watson due to the NFL having huge issues regarding women working for the teams and being harassed. While the two issues are not related on the surface, the overall treatment of women is, and Watson has treated at least 22 women so bad, they sued him.

    Watson will be an example, of the “new NFL guidelines.”

  11. Watson is a creepy dude! Why would someone want that for the face of their franchise?

  12. Let’s face what I believe to be the facts here. After Baker found out the Browns were pursuing Watson he basically wrote a Goodbye and Thank You note to Cleveland and it’s fans. It didn’t work out for the Browns when Watson said that Cleveland was the first team out of the running for his services. Haslam then was going to fly to Texas to meet personally with Mayfield. Mayfield basically said “don’t bother I don’t want to see your face” and wouldn’t meet with him.
    That is when the lid blew off for the Browns.
    They would give anything Watson’s camp wanted and asked for in order to get him to Cleveland because Haslam felt so disrespected once the story leaked.
    And this is the bed they made for themselves.
    We’re The Cleveland Browns. We are used to this.

  13. statechamp77 says:
    April 8, 2022 at 4:06 pm

    Thanks Cleveland, we will make great use of the draft pick we got in the Watson trade! Good luck with Watson, y’all will need it!
    Who are “we”? Do you have a mouse in your pocket?

  14. 20 guzillon fans tune in around the world every week to watch NFL football. I doubt there’s a huge percentage of those fans who really care that much about the fine print in a player’s contract. I mean, if they’re out there, I haven’t met one.

  15. So wait… are those 18 women different from the original 22? I thought before the they were 18 of the 22 but this article makes it seem as though it’s another 18. Can someone please shed some light on this for me?

  16. What would the narrative be if he went to the Falcons saints or Panthers? Would there be as many stories pushed out everyday?

  17. I mean, the Browns showed after signing Kareem Hunt that they don’t give a **** about anything but trying to get wins. Protect themselves and let the fans whine.

  18. So, 22 suing, and another 18 saying that he is a Good guy, for a total of 40 massage therapists…..ya, that doesn’t sound strange in itself….

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