With Deshaun Watson’s 2022 season hanging in the balance as the NFL appeals his six-game suspension, the 31 other teams in the league are reportedly unhappy with the Cleveland Browns over the “rigged” contract that will see him not lose very much from a financial standpoint.
Watson signed a record-breaking five-year, $230 million contract back in March and the deal gave him $8.9 million in signing bonuses but a base salary of just a little over $1 million, which seemingly anticipated he would be suspended.
Without a successful appeal, Watson stands to lose just around $345,000 of his salary. His nearly $45 million signing bonus will not be affected by any suspension.
According to Peter King of NBC Sports, the rest of the league has taken issue with the contract structure.
“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,” King wrote.
Browns general manager Andrew Berry defended the contract during his introductory press conference back in March, saying it was “very similar to a lot of the larger player contracts we already have on the books.”
“We understand the optics of it. I think for us, after we got comfortable with Deshaun, the contract was really a football decision. The things that were important to us from a club perspective were to have Deshaun under contract for another year and to have it structured in a manner that would allow us maximum flexibility to execute the rest of our offseason plan,” he told reporters.
“I think probably the other to mention is that structure is very similar to a lot of the larger player contracts we already have on the books.”
Last week, former federal judge and independent disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson found that Watson had violated the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy and handed him down a six-game suspension with no fine.
The NFL has appealed the ruling and appointed former New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey to hear the case.
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