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Browns restructure Deshaun Watson contract, clear just under $36 million in cap space

The Browns officially begin the process of kicking the can down the road with Deshaun Watson.

Deshaun Watson #4 of the Cleveland Browns in action against the Pittsburgh Steelers on January 8, 2022 at Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns entered Monday an estimated $14 million over the salary cap, but it took only one move to put them nearly $22 million under the cap. The team restructured quarterback Deshaun Watson’s contract to free up more than $35 million in salary cap space.

Watson was due a $46 million base salary this season, but the team converted that salary to a bonus and added a voidable dummy year at the end of the deal. His new salary for 2023 is $1,080,000, which is the veteran minimum for a player with four to six credited years. His cap hit is now $19,057,000.

The Browns will likely be making a similar move in 2024, and again in 2025 and 2026 if Watson is still on the roster. He’s due $46 million each of those three years and has cap hits of $63,977,000 each year. There’s almost no chance the team has those hits on the books when each new year arrives. They’ll eventually have to pay the piper, but for now they’ll kick the can down the road.