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Browns say Deshaun Watson’s contract wasn’t structured to help him if he’s suspended

Although Rusty Hardin’s statement claims Deshaun Watson didn’t commit any crimes, Mike Florio and Peter King discuss why it’s hard to believe given the sheer volume of the women reportedly impacted.

The enormous new contract that the Browns gave Deshaun Watson was structured in a way that could protect Watson from the financial consequences if he’s suspended for sexually assaulting female massage therapists. But the Browns say that wasn’t the intent behind the structure of the contract.

Browns General Manager Andrew Berry said the contract giving Watson a huge $44.965 million signing bonus and a minimum base salary this season of $1.035 million was not intended to minimize Watson’s financial losses from a suspension. Berry said it was just a part of the Browns’ salary cap management.

Still, players who are suspended lose a portion of their base salaries but do not lose any portion of their signing bonuses, so if a player is going to be suspended, it’s to his advantage to have a big signing bonus combined with a low base salary. Berry acknowledged that it looked like the kind of contract a team would give a player to help him avoid losing money in a suspension.

“We understand the optics of it,” Berry said.

Berry also said there are basic club protections built into the contract, but he declined to give any details of what that means.