Cleveland Browns GM admits $230m Deshaun Watson deal restructuring ‘may be on the table’

Cleveland Browns GM admits restructuring of Deshaun Watson’s record-breaking $230 million deal ‘may be on the table’ to free up wage cap spot after quarterback struggled after returning from 11-game suspension for sexual misconduct last season

The Cleveland Browns may be looking to restructure controversial quarterback Deshaun Watson’s $230 million contract.

The Browns lured the 27-year-old to Cleveland from Houston a year ago with a huge, fully guaranteed, five-year, $230 million deal that rocked the NFL.

But just a year later, Cleveland general manager Andrew Berry suggested the team might consider a contract restructuring to free up space in the salary cap – after Watson started just six games after an 11-game suspension.

“It may be on the table, but there’s a lot of flexibility in what we can do,” Berry said Tuesday at the NFL scouting team in Indianapolis.

The Browns have about $14 million more than the salary cap and need to get below that cap if they intend to operate in free agency, which opens March 15.

Cleveland signed Deshaun Watson to a record-breaking five-year, $230 million deal last year

Browns GM Andrew Berry has admitted the team may restructure Watson's deal

Browns GM Andrew Berry (right) admitted the team could restructure Deshaun Watson’s deal (left)

Not only did Watson’s deal make league history by being fully guaranteed, but his salary cap was $55 million in 2023, another record. The deal also established a new bar for quarterbacks across the league.

However, Watson had no start to the life in Cleveland that the Browns desired.

He was suspended 11 games by the league after two dozen women accused him of sexual misconduct while he played for the Houston Texans.

Watson agreed to a lengthy suspension, a $5 million fine, and undergoing professional counseling and therapy after an independent arbitrator ruled that he had violated the league’s personal conduct rules.

Watson settled with 23 women who sued him over the allegations. Two processes remain in progress.

He finally made his regular season debut for the Browns on December 4 against Houston, who drafted him in 2017 and traded him to Cleveland in March for three first-round draft picks.

Watson initially turned down a trade for the Browns before they raised their offer to him in desperation to get one of the best QBs in the league.

After his suspension, however, Watson struggled to shake off a 700-day break between games, going just 3-3 in six starts as the Browns finished 7-10.

The quarterback was suspended for 11 games by the NFL after allegations of sexual misconduct

The quarterback was suspended for 11 games by the NFL after allegations of sexual misconduct

But the 27-year-old struggled to shake off the rust on his return, going 3-3 for the Browns

But the 27-year-old struggled to shake off the rust on his return, going 3-3 for the Browns

But Berry was confident that the Browns’ massive investment in Watson would eventually pay off.

“We are happy with where Deshaun is, happy with the progress he has made since he has been with us and we certainly expect him to have a very strong year on and off the pitch starting in 2023,” said Berry. “We are very excited about Deshaun.

“We look forward to further developing this crime over the next few months. Of course, having him in the full off-season until 2023, we certainly expect him to play at a high level.

Although the Browns currently have some financial constraints, Berry was confident that the team would operate as a free agent. Cleveland needs to improve their defensive line and could be in the market for a top-tier wide receiver.

“The rules are flexible, whether it’s to release a player, replace a player, restructure the contract, negotiate an extension,” Berry said.

“There are many different ways to create space for a hat. The approach we would take would really be dictated by the opportunities that lie ahead. One of our tenants is flexibility. We have enough flexibility to be as aggressive or conservative as we need to be.

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