The Browns have restructured Deshaun Watson’s contract, and the move will free up nearly $36 million in cap space ahead of free agency, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. The legal tampering period for impending free agents starts Monday at noon ET, and teams can officially sign players when the new league year starts Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET.
Cleveland signed the quarterback to a massive, fully guaranteed contract last year. The pact covers five years and is worth $230 million. It’s the most guaranteed money in NFL history and naturally carried a hefty hit to the team’s cap space. Before the restructuring, Watson was due $46 million in base salary this year.
During February’s NFL combine, Browns general manager Andrew Berry indicated that changing Watson’s contract was a real possibility, and now it appears to be done.
“It could be on the table, but there’s a lot of flexibility in terms of what we can do,” Berry said.
Watson played in only six games last season after serving an 11-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal-conduct policy. A total of 26 civil complaints were filed against Watson, graphically describing allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault. All but one of the lawsuits have since been settled.
Plaintiffs say the incidents occurred during massage therapy sessions, and criminal complaints were filed against him, but two Texas grand juries declined to charge him last spring.