Browns Rumors: Deshaun Watson Open to Restructuring Contract to Clear Cap Space

Doric SamMarch 5, 2023

LANDOVER, MD - JANUARY 01: Deshaun Watson #4 of the Cleveland Browns looks on before the game against the Washington Commanders at FedExField on January 1, 2023 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson has the highest guaranteed contract in NFL history, but he's reportedly willing to make some changes in order to improve the team this offseason.

According to Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com, Watson "is open to restructuring his contract over the next week to help the Browns get under the salary cap, and to clear some space to add quality veterans via free agency or trades."

The Browns are over the salary cap by more than $13.4 million and have until the new league year begins on March 15 to get under it. Earlier this week, general manager Andrew Berry said at the NFL Scouting Combine that a restructuring of Watson's contract "could be on the table," though he noted that the team has other options for cap relief as well.

Cleveland plans to release safety John Johnson III, which would save the team $9.8 million if he's designated as a post-June 1 cut. Players like Myles Garrett and Amari Cooper, who will make $29.2 million and $23.8 million, respectively, in 2023, could also be candidates to have their deals restructured.

Watson's cap hit for each of the next four seasons is $54.9 million as part of his five-year, $230 million contract. Because his money is fully guaranteed, Cabot reports that Watson "won't hesitate to re-do the deal to help the Browns participate fully in free agency and the trade market" in hopes of competing for a Super Bowl.

The Browns are coming off a 7-10 campaign, which ranked last in the AFC North. Watson missed the first 11 games of the season while serving a suspension for violating the NFL's conduct policy following sexual assault and misconduct allegations from more than two dozen massage therapists. In his six appearances, he threw for 1,102 yards, seven touchdowns and five interceptions.