Well the Court of Public Opinion is not going to rule favorably on this one. And I get it, the optics here are very bad. Deshaun signed a $230 million contract, but his base salary for year one, in which he was likely to get suspended, was only $1 million. Factor in the $45 million signing bonus he got that cannot be touched, and he will only get $45.7 million of the $46 million he was slated to receive this season. This is like the common worker getting fined $50. A drop in the bucket that will not hurt Deshaun Watson financially whatsoever.
But let's get one thing straight: not only is this type of contract structure a staple of what Andrew Berry has done in Cleveland, it is also a staple of how many contracts are done throughout the entire NFL.
Of all the things that people can be upset about this morning, the first year base salary of Watson's contract should not be one of them. It's a way for NFL GMs to offset money, and the Browns are saying that whether a suspension was looming or not, the deal would've been structured the same way. Get upset that Calvin Ridley lost $11.1 million and is sitting out the entire year for making a parlay while injured. Get upset that Josh Gordon got suspended 78 games for smoking weed. Get upset that DeAndre Hopkins and Deshaun Watson are both missing 6 games, but for vastly different reasons. But you cannot be upset about the way his contract was structured.