In a move that had been expected for a few weeks now the Browns have finally restructured the contract of QB Deshaun Watson to open up $35.936 million of salary cap space in 2023.
The #Browns have restructured QB Deshaun Watson’s contract, creating nearly $36M in cap space, source said. The cap conversion gives plenty of room for Cleveland to work in free agency.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 13, 2023
To create the cap room, the Browns reduced Watson’s salary for the year to the minimum and turned $44.92 million into a signing bonus that will be prorated over the next five seasons with a void year included. The move will increase Watson’s cap charges from 2023 to 2026 by $8.984 million per season. That now leaves Watson with cap charges just under $64 million in each of those seasons. There will also be an $8.9 million charge in the void year.
I am a little surprised that the Browns went all in like this on the contract. While they needed to make a move to be salary cap compliant, my assumption was more that they would only do a partial conversion of Watson’s salary just to reach the minimum threshold needed to be salary cap compliant and then they would go in and adjust as needed when they had a player in mind to sign. It is not a problem if all of the unused cap space is simply rolled over to the future but teams rarely do that.
The Browns are now salary cap compliant for 2023 and are estimated to have about $21.9 million in cap space.