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Browns have automatic right to restructure Deshaun Watson’s contract

Mike Florio and Chris Simms explore how much of a difference-maker Calvin Ridley will be with the Jags this season, after missing the 2022 NFL season due to a gambling suspension.

There’s an important reason why quarterback Deshaun Watson is reportedly open to a restructuring of his contract. He has no choice.

Per a source with knowledge of the contract, the Browns have the right to convert “any portion” of Watson’s compensation (salary, bonuses, etc.) into a signing bonus, in any year of the contract.

This year, Watson has a $46 million salary and a cap number of $54.993 million. With a minimum salary for Watson at $1.08 million, $44.92 million can be converted to a signing bonus and prorated. That would push $33.69 million to future years, and it would drop Watson’s cap number to $21.3 million.

If the Browns want to spread the amount for more than the remaining years of the deal, a renegotiation would be needed. For example, the Browns and Watson could add a voidable year.

For now, though, the Browns can create $33,69 million if the team chooses, by converting most of his 2023 salary into a signing bonus. Whether Watson wants to do it doesn’t matter. Even though every dollar of the contract is fully guaranteed, it’s always better to have the money than to not have the money.

One last point -- even though the money would become a signing bonus, it’s not subject to forfeiture in the usual sense. Per the terms of the deal, any potential forfeiture of the money converted to signing bonus ends when the next regular season concludes.