Browns flexed money muscle to get back in Deshaun Watson sweepstakes

Browns Deshaun Watson
Browns Deshaun Watson /

Deshaun Watson is on the Cleveland Browns, as the organization made the Clemson product one of the richest quarterbacks in NFL history.

The Browns are better from a football standpoint with his addition, but ownership and the front office have alienated a good sect of the fan base by brining Watson, and his his 22 accusations of sexual assault, on board.

The Browns are pushing a lot of chips in for a player with an unsavory past in a move to win now. It’s a decision that comes with great risk, as three-first round picks were used to in the deal. If things go right from a football standpoint, Watson and the Browns will win the Super Bowl. If things go wrong, the decision to bring him could torpedo the franchise for another 5-7 years.

Watson sat out all of last season after those aforementioned allegations and he could still face suspension from the league.

It looked like Watson’s past wouldn’t be an issue for the fan base after Watson eliminated Cleveland early on in the process. The Panthers looked like a logical spot while the Falcons’ home-town angle was appealing to Watson, according to The Athletic’s Jeff Howe.

How’d Browns get back in on Deshaun Watson?

Watson wanted the Panthers to guarantee a third and fourth year on Watson’s four-year, $156 million contract, according to The Charlotte Observer. Those years weren’t fully guaranteed on the contract he had with the Texans.

Carolina said no and this gave the Browns an entryway back into negotiations after previously being eliminated. According to Howe, the organization was “…Confident in the work they did on his background as it related to the civil suits and potential league-imposed discipline.”

With a billionaire owner unafraid to flex, Jimmy Haslam guaranteed every bit of Watson’s five-year, $230 million deal. That document better come with a morals clause.

Watson’s base salary for 2022 will be $1 million, while his signing bonus is $45 million. This protects Watson should he be suspended in 2022. He’ll lose $58,823 (1/17 of his base salary) per game this season if he’s told by the league to not play. If his base salary was $46 million, he’d lose about $2.7 million per game.

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Watson will only carry a $10 million cap number, which is lower than that of Baker Mayfield’s ($18.89 million), who will be traded soon at some point.