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#pounditThursday, September 29, 2022

NFL owners upset with Browns over 1 contract issue

Mar 25, 2022; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson talks with the media during a press conference at the CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Deshaun Watson will not have to forfeit much money during his six-game suspension, and that apparently does not sit well with teams around the NFL.

Watson signed a massive contract extension with the Cleveland Browns after they acquired him from the Houston Texans this offseason. The deal will pay him $230 million guaranteed. His base salary for the 2022 season is just $1.035 million, however. There is a wide-ranging belief that the Browns intentionally structured the contract that way to protect Watson in the event of a suspension, as the star quarterback was facing numerous sexual assault allegations at the time he was traded to Cleveland.

According to Peter King of NBC Sports, executives around the NFL are not happy with the Browns for essentially bailing Watson out.

“One influential NFL person told me on this trip that it doesn’t sit well with the league or 31 other owners that the Browns rigged the Watson contract so that his suspension would cause him to lose only a fraction of his 2022 compensation,” King wrote.

Watson stands to lose just under $350,000 in game checks during his six-game ban. His new contract includes a $45 million signing bonus, which will not be impacted by the suspension. Teams often structure deals that way to give themselves more salary cap flexibility, but the Browns have nearly $50 million in cap space. That is by far the most in the NFL.

The length of Watson’s suspension was determined by Judge Sue L. Robinson, an independent party mutually approved by both the league and NFLPA. The NFL is unhappy with the punishment for two reasons. It sounds like those frustrations are shared by teams around the league.

H/T Bleacher Report

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