4 Browns on Thin Ice After Stefanski, Berry Extensions

The Cleveland Browns finally extended HC Kevin Stefanski and GM Andrew Berry on Wednesday. As a result, these four players could find themselves on thin ice going forward.
WR Elijah Moore is one Brown who could be on thin ice following Stefanski and Berry's extensions.
WR Elijah Moore is one Brown who could be on thin ice following Stefanski and Berry's extensions. / Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
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2. Deshaun Watson, QB

Is it crazy to think that Deshaun Watson could be on thin ice despite only having spent two seasons with the Browns? Maybe, but also maybe not.

The Browns received a ton of scrutiny when they inked Deshaun Watson to a five-year, $230 million contract (that's fully guaranteed) nearly immediately after acquiring him from the Houston Texans. Off-field issues aside, it was seen as a lot of money for a quarterback who sat out the entire 2021 campaign one year after having the best performance of his career.

While there are still three years remaining on his deal, Watson's performance hasn't exactly matched his pricetag. The 28-year-old veteran gunslinger has been limited to 12 starts over the last two seasons due to injury. During that stretch, Watson has completed just 59.8% of passes for 2,217 passing yards, 14 TDs (to 9 interceptions), and an 81.7 passer rating.

Considering how he's slated to carry a $63.7 million cap hit in 2024, it's getting harder and harder to like that trade.

If Watson falters during the upcoming season, there are some exit plans on the horizon. Although the Browns won't save any money by releasing him at any point next year, they can free up $859,679 if they trade him before June 1, 2025, or $45.7 million after that date, per Spotrac.

Even if Cleveland has to eat nearly $63 million in dead money next year with a pre-June deal, it could be worth it to avoid paying the final two years of Watson's contract.

Finding a trade partner wouldn't be easy, but you can never say never in the NFL. There's always the possibility that Berry & Co. could fool a desperate GM into taking the struggling QB off their hands if things don't turn around soon.

Besides, Joe Flacco's late-season heroics showed Browns fans that they don't need one of the league's highest-paid QBs to find success.