CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cleveland Browns have restructured quarterback Deshaun Watson’s $230 million contract to create salary-cap space ahead of NFL free agency, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Monday.
The Browns converted Watson’s base salary into a signing bonus to create $36 million of cap space, according to the person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the team is not publicly disclosing any information. Teams may begin agreeing to contracts with free agents at noon.
Browns general manager Andrew Berry recently said that the restructuring of Watson’s deal was “on the table.” NFL Network was first to report the restructuring.
Watson initially rejected a trade from Houston to Cleveland a year ago but changed his mind after the Browns offered him a five-year, $230 million contract that was fully guaranteed.
The team was criticized for the deal given that Watson had been accused of sexual misconduct and harassment by 23 women in Texas. He has since settled 23 civil lawsuits brought by the massage therapists, who said the QB acted inappropriately during sessions.
Watson was suspended 11 games last season by the NFL for violating its personal conduct policy. He played in six games for Cleveland, posting a 3-3 record while looking rusty following a nearly two-year layoff.
The Browns went 7-10 last season and are looking to add some defensive linemen and possibly a wide receiver in free agency.