Bill Barnwell, an ESPN analyst, has laid out a scenario in which the Cleveland Browns could potentially part ways with quarterback Deshaun Watson in the upcoming offseason.
This is despite the fact that the Browns signed Watson to a substantial, fully guaranteed five-year contract worth $230 million when they acquired him from the Houston Texans in March 2022.
“He is owed $138M over the next three seasons, all of which is guaranteed, but the structure of his contract would make him movable. The Browns can’t cut him, but if they found a trade partner, they would owe $62.9M in dead money, which is essentially what they’ll owe for him to be on the roster next season. Their cap would be clear of Watson in 2025, and while they would be down three first-round picks from a disastrous deal, they would be able to move forward without a player accused of more than two dozen cases of sexual misconduct on their roster.”
Watson’s 2022 season was marked by limited appearances, as he only played in six games. His absence from the first 11 games of the season was due to a suspension linked to previous allegations made against him, even though two grand juries chose not to indict the 28-year-old quarterback. Later in the season, he faced a shoulder injury, leading to his shutdown in November.
During the 2023 regular season, Watson had a 5-1 record as a starter, completing 61.4% of his 171 passes for 1,115 yards, with seven touchdowns and four interceptions. He also contributed 142 rushing yards and scored one touchdown on 26 carries. In the meantime, veteran Joe Flacco earned the admiration of Cleveland fans by going 4-1 in five starts, helping the Browns secure a playoff spot with an 11-6 record.
However, Flacco’s performance took a downturn in the wild-card playoff game against the Texans, as he threw two costly pick-six interceptions in a 45-14 loss.
Despite these developments, Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski announced that Watson will be the team’s starting quarterback for Week 1 of the upcoming September season.
Nevertheless, there is a possibility that Cleveland could part ways with Deshaun Watson’s contract if they find a willing buyer interested in acquiring the three-time Pro Bowl selection.
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