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A restructuring of Deshaun Watson’s fully guaranteed contract could “be on the table” in the words Cleveland Browns general manager Andrew Berry.
Watson was a bargain for the Browns in 2022, the first year of his five-year, $230 million deal. He had a salary cap hit of $9.4 million.
Beginning in 2023, the Pro Bowler’s on-field value will be reflected three times in his cap number. He will make nearly $55 million in each of the next four seasons, giving Cleveland a clear reason to rework his entire payroll.
Through Over the Cap, restructuring would save $33.7 million for the coming year, and that money could be spread across the roster or allocated for a marquee addition in free agency.
While the Browns would be getting short-term financial relief, they would have to contend with the fact that Watson is ready to earn every penny of his $230 million one way or another.
If his cap hit is reduced now, Cleveland will be paying later if he keeps the current five-year term.
Jack Duffin @JackDuffin
What a contract will look like #Browns when they restructure it next season? 👀
It will free up $35,936,000 of additional 2023 cap space 💰
Read more here: https://t. co/tWPNSbT8Z0 pic.twitter.com/jKD1FVRPU5
Not to mention, the franchise is married to Watson for the foreseeable future. It would likely be so difficult to cut or trade him that he would be completely off the table, even with a contract restructuring.
It will be interesting to see how the 27-year-old performs in 2023.
Watson threw for 1,102 yards, seven touchdowns and five interceptions while completing 58.2 percent of his passes in his first six games with the Browns. His was 38.3 QBR it was well below his previous low (61.8).
Rust was likely a concern for a player who was out for all of 2021 and the first 11 games of 2022 amid the events and suspension due to multiple lawsuits against him as he was charged with a month -sexual behavior.
The veteran signal-caller didn’t exactly impress in his first year in Cleveland.
Perhaps Watson returns with the kind of campaign that justifies, from a football perspective, the unprecedented contract he signed. If not, no amount of salary-cap moves Berry makes can fully reverse how much the Browns are financially hindered.