The contract the Browns gave Deshaun Watson, which seemed rigged to minimize his punishment, didn’t go over well with the rest of the NFL.
There are a few things about the contract between Deshaun Watson and the Browns that didn’t sit right with people.
He was given the second biggest contract in NFL history complete with the most guaranteed money ever despite being accused of sexual misconduct by no less than two dozen women.
Moreover, the contract included language that prevented him from losing significant money if he were suspended, which was definitely an inevitability. Since the first year of the deal featured an untouchable signing bonus and a $1 million base salary, docking him game checks would hardly make a financial dent.
Browns: Deshaun Watson contract has upset the rest of the NFL
According to Peter King, that aspect of the deal ruffled feathers around the league:
“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. A suspension of six games, for instance, means Watson would be docked six-eighteenths (there are 18 game weeks, including the bye) of his $1.035-million salary, or $344,655. So if Robinson’s suspension with no additional fine other than six game checks stands, it means Watson would lose 0.7 percent of his $46-million total compensation this year. That’s almost absurd beyond words. I expect [appeal designee Peter] Harvey to be under some pressure to levy a multi-million-dollar fine of Watson in whatever he rules.”
There are many players who have received contracts with a large signing bonus and league minimum salary in Year 1. That certainly happens.
However, Watson’s contract contained unique language protecting him in the case of a suspension. It was transparent that Cleveland was setting things up to spare him financially. It’s never made more sense why Watson approved the trade in the first place.
Ironically, it’s probably going to cost him in the long run because the NFL looks likely to make up the difference with a bigger suspension and a much bigger monetary fine.