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Deshaun Watson’s “Rigged” Contract: The NFL Teams Issues

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About Deshaun Watson

Watson, Derrick Deshaun, is a quarterback for the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League (NFL). He was born to Deann Watson and Don Richardson on September 14, 1995, in Gainesville, Georgia. He led his Clemson Tigers football team to a national title in 2016. Watson was a first-round pick for the Houston Texans in the 2017 NFL draft.

A promising rookie season was cut short by an injury, but Watson went on to lead the Texans to division victories in 2018 and 2019, and he led the league in passing yards in 2020. Not only that but in his three years as Houston’s starter, he was selected to the Pro Bowl every year. His career pass rate is second-best all-time, but his completion rate is the best ever (minimum 1,500 attempts).

More than two dozen female massage therapists have accused Watson of sexual harassment and sexual assault beginning in 2021. Even though Watson has paid almost $20 million to settle sexual misconduct charges, he insists he did nothing wrong.

After a dispute with the Houston Texans’ head office and many sexual-misconduct lawsuits sidelined Watson for the entire 2021 season, the Cleveland Browns acquired him in a trade. Watson signed a five-year, $230 million contract in March 2022, one of the most expensive contracts in NFL history.

Dissatisfied with the team’s new front office and coaching staff, Watson requested a trade from the Texans after the 2020 season. However, the Texans refused to negotiate with other teams about trade offers, leading to a standoff between Watson and the team until sexual-harassment allegations surfaced.

Watson was named to the Texans’ 53-man roster to begin the season with free-agent signing Tyrod Taylor and rookie Davis Mills, despite the off-field problems and his standing with the team. Texans GM Nick Caserio has said he will take things “one day at a time” with Deshaun Watson.

The “Rigged” Contract

With Deshaun Watson’s 2022 season in limbo as the NFL appeals his six-game ban, the league’s other 31 teams are allegedly dissatisfied with the Cleveland Browns over the “rigged” contract that will suffer minimal financial repercussions from the league’s disciplinary action.

In March, Watson signed a record-breaking five-year, $230 million contract. The contract provided him with $8.9 million in signing incentives but a basic salary of less than $1 million for the 2022 season, presumably in expectation of a ban. This amount will increase to $46 million for the subsequent season. Without a successful appeal, Watson stands to lose approximately $345,000 of his compensation, or approximately $57,500 per game.

According to one report, though, the overall sentiment within the league is one of disappointment. Peter King of NBC Sports reported this week that an influential NFL official stated that the Browns’ manipulation of Watson’s contract such that he would forfeit only a portion of his 2022 salary did not sit well with the league or its other 31 owners.

The NFL star Deshaun Watson is facing more than 20 civil lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct and assault by numerous women. As a result of the sexual harassment complaint, Watson has been suspended for six games without pay.

However, he will not be fined for violating the league’s guidelines on personal conduct, which infuriated many people. He was also permitted to participate in the Cleveland Browns’ preseason activities, including their preseason games.

So far, Deshaun Watson has agreed to settle all pending sexual harassment lawsuits save one. Watson apologized to all women affected by this event in a recent interview.

Watson is currently engaged in active negotiations with the NFL in an effort to achieve a settlement regarding the penalty against him. As things currently stand, it appears highly probable that a definitive settlement will be reached very soon.

The NFL Teams Issue

The six-game ban given to Deshaun Watson was first met with outrage from NFL teams, who felt that the punishment was insufficient and should have been more severe. They were also upset with the fine for the six-game suspension, which was $344,655, which is a very little number when compared to his annual pay with the Browns.

There is no penalty applied to Watson’s signing bonus; rather, it is solely applied to his first year’s base salary, which is little more than one million dollars. This particular contractual arrangement was developed specifically to sidestep a more significant penalty.

The National Football League has made it public knowledge that it will file a formal appeal against Watson’s ban and ask for a significantly more severe penalty. It is being stated that the league is looking for a substantially larger fine in addition to an indefinite suspension that will continue for at least one year.

It is not at all unusual for National Football League teams to organize player contracts in a particular manner in order to minimize their financial obligations under the salary cap. Although his base pay is set at $1.12 million and he has an $11.9 million cap hit, Tom Brady is scheduled to make $30 million during his first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2022.

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