The Dunning-Kruger effect is when someone is really bad at what they do but they truly believe they are good at it. A few examples would be politicians thinking they're making the country better, most NFL owners thinking they're building a winning culture, or Annie Agar thinking she is funny.
The Cleveland-Browns effect is when they do business in such an abnormal, ass-backward fashion that it affects the rest of the league. That is what is happening with Deshaun Watson's fully guaranteed, five-year, $230 million contract and according to the Athletic a line is being drawn in the sand.
And now, the NFLPA is alleging collusion among owners as the reason for it.
Per a memo dated Oct. 20, 2022, sent from the league’s general counsel Jeff Pash to club owners, presidents, general managers and counsel, the NFLPA filed a claim alleging that teams and the league have colluded to prevent clubs from offering players fully guaranteed contracts.
The Browns, desperate to end their perpetual pursuit of a legitimate franchise quarterback, threw all caution to the wind and traded for Watson despite numerous off the field allegations of sexual misconduct. A footnote of that deal was the fact they had to give him an unprecedented fully guaranteed contract for a quarterback to convince him to accept the trade. Everyone thought it would change the landscape of how QB deals were structured. A seismic shift in contract negations across the league.
To quote Chief Keef, one of the great poets of our time, the owners said...
Since then Derek Carr, Kyler Murray, and Russ Wilson all received new deals, none of which were fully guaranteed. Now, you could make the argument that Watson is half a human bigger than Murray so he's less likely to get injured. He's more than half a decade younger than Wilson so his prime is still ahead of him. And he's at least 50% better than Carr who has turned being mid into an art form.
If you view the league through that lens then it makes sense that none of them received fully-guaranteed deals. The only real case the NFLPA has is Lamar Jackson, who opted to play out this year in hopes of forcing the Ravens to give him a contract where the money was guaranteed. And his play would suggest, if this is truly the new norm, that he should get what he is asking for.
Unfortunately for him, many owners publicly complained about the contract when the Browns gave it to Watson, including the guy who is trying to get his money from.
“Damn, I wish they hadn’t guaranteed the whole contract,” Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti told reporters at the NFL league meetings last March. “I don’t know that he should’ve been the first guy to get a fully guaranteed contract. To me, that’s something that is groundbreaking, and it’ll make negotiations harder with others.”
Now I'd love to give the Browns front office credit for some diabolical scheme that not only landed them a franchise QB also could force both Lamar and Joe Burrow out of the division should their owners refuse to pony up that guaranteed cheddar. But going off this franchise's track record I'd say that was probably closer tho dumb luck than sheer genius.
And if there was any question about which way their fellow owners view it, well let's just say they have honed in on the word "dumb".
“They don’t need to collude to do that,” the first executive told The Athletic on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. “The Browns are the only team willing to do that. Everybody else knows that it was a terrible contract.”
Maybe so, but terrible or not they are making a headache for the Ravens right now and the Bengals eventually, and that is a net positive for the Browns. And who knows if this collusion accusation goes anywhere or has any merit but the fact the NFLPA was willing to file it shows they are not backing off the issue. So like it or not, top tier QBs are heading into negotiations with fully-guaranteed contracts as their main goal.
Which I know makes Cincinnati owner, and notorious broke boi, Mike Brown's asshole pucker up like it just bit into a lemon. And if the Browns cause a little chaos around the league with their unorthodox (and many would argue completely negligent) way of doing business then so be it. It's about time the rest of the league felt the pain the Haslams cause us Cleveland fans every year.
Welcome to our hell.