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Browns owners could be getting the cold shoulder at league meetings

Yes, the NFL’s 32 teams represent unique and distinct businesses. But they’re all bound together by Big Shield, and there’s a certain way of doing business under the broader NFL umbrella.

With the owners of all teams in sunny Palm Beach for the first in-person annual meetings since 2019, the owners of the Cleveland Browns could be in for a chilly reception.

Peter King describes Jimmy and Dee Haslam as “[n]ot the most popular people at the league meetings on Sunday” in King’s latest Football Morning in America column. King says he heard “lots of grumbling” from people within NFL circles regarding the decision to give up so many draft picks for Deshaun Watson and to pay him a five-year, $230 million contract with every penny guaranteed, given the allegations still pending against him.

One team executive told King that the situation “stinks to high heaven.”

Apart from the obvious criticism flowing from the decision to give up so much for Watson and to give him a massive new contract on the way in the door (Russell Wilson didn’t get that in Denver) despite the unresolved off-field issues, the peers of Jimmy and Dee Haslam surely aren’t happy with the decision to guarantee so much money for so many years. The funding rule will require the Browns to set aside $169 million by next March. Other teams will now face similar expectations when negotiating contracts of their own.

Teams had resisted, at the urging of the NFL’s Management Council, guaranteeing so much money so far into the future, for years. The Browns have broken ranks, which may now require other teams to follow suit. Those other teams can’t be happy about it.