Agent’s Take: The economic consequences of Deshaun Watson’s 11-game suspension – CBS Sports

Agent's Take: The economic consequences of Deshaun Watson's 11-game suspension - CBS Sports

The NFL and NFLPA reached a settlement on Thursday in relation to Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson discipline for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. Watson is suspended for Cleveland’s first 11 games of the regular season without pay and fined $5 million. He must also undergo a mandatory evaluation by behavioral experts and follow their treatment plan.

The settlement is the final resolution of the disciplinary process, ending the NFL’s appeal of the six-game suspension without good disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson, who was jointly appointed by the NFL and NFLPA, imposed on Watson. Robinson found Watson in violation by engaging in sexual assault, conduct that poses a genuine danger to the safety and well-being of another person and conduct that undermines or puts at risk the integrity of the NFL in her 16-page ruling. The settlement prohibits the NFLPA from pursuing legal remedies through the federal court system.

Before the settlement, the NFL sought an indefinite suspension where Watson could apply for reinstatement after a year from Peter C. Harvey, who was selected by commissioner Roger Goodell to handle the appeal. The 11-game ban is the longest suspension ever imposed under the personal conduct policy for sexual misconduct. What is unknown is whether Robinson’s mandate that Watson’s massage therapy be limited to team-approved massage therapists for the remainder of his career remains. Watson’s punishment is in line with what the NFL sought in settlement talks that took place before Robinson’s decision. The NFLPA rejected the NFL’s reported offer of a 12-game suspension and a $10 million fine.

Watson’s suspension takes effect on August 30 when the final cut to 53 players takes place for NFL teams. According to the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, Watson will be allowed back into team facilities and allowed to participate in limited activities during the second half of suspension under conditions similar to players who are suspended under the effectiveness of the NFL’s performance-enhancing substance policy. On October 10, the day after the Browns’ Week 5 contest against the Chargers, his allowable activities will include attending team meetings, individually working with the Browns’ strength and conditioning coach, meeting individually with Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski, offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt and quarterbacks coach Drew Petzing and receiving therapy/rehabilitation from the Browns. medical staff and trainers. Watson will be able to practice during the last two weeks of the suspension beginning on November 14. The suspension will be lifted on November 28. Watson will be eligible to play in the Browns’ Week 13 game against the. TexansWatson’s former team, on Dec. 4. His return will be in Week 13 instead of Week 12 because Cleveland has a Week 9 bye.

Many of the other NFL teams feel that the fully guaranteed, five-year contract worth $230 million Watson signed in March as part of his trade from the Texans was structured in a way that was designed to minimize the financial consequences of the suspension. Without pay belongs to basic pay with suspensions. Watson received a $44.965 million signing bonus and his 2022 base salary is $1.035 million, his league minimum base salary in the deal. He loses $632,500 (or 11/18ths of his base salary of $1.035 million in 2022) because he makes $57,500 each of the 18 weeks in the regular season.

The Browns will receive $632,500 of the 2022 cap hit from the base salary that Watson will not earn due to the suspension. Presumably, the $57,500 from Week 9 will be treated as suspensions under the NFL’s drug policy. It would have to be paid in equal installments over the remainder of the season after Watson serves his suspension. Watson’s contract does not pay with his 11-game suspension. His contract years will continue as intended, meaning his deal ends after the 2026 season. His salary numbers from 2023 to 2026 will each remain at $54.993 million ($46 million base salary and $8.993 million in signing bonus ratio).

If there wasn’t a settlement where Harvey gave Watson the year-long suspension the NFL was looking for, his contract would have paid off. Basically, Watson’s contract would have been frozen and restarted in 2023 with pay. His contract year of 2022 would have become his contract year of 2023 and additional years on the contract would also be pushed back one year. Instead of Watson’s contract expiring after the 2026 season, it would have ended after 2027. Although the contract would have been pushed back a year, the signing bonus ratio of $8.993 million annually from 2022 through 2026 would have remained intact.

None of Watson’s $44.935 million signing bonus is in jeopardy, thanks to language in the contract. Watson’s salary guarantees won’t expire either. Contract guarantees typically void for an exhaustive list of player defaults. Upon expiration, the player would still have the opportunity to earn the salary that is no longer guaranteed on a non-guaranteed basis.

The relevant language on Watson’s signing bonus is as follows:

“…a suspension by the NFL solely in connection with matters disclosed to a Club in writing pursuant to Clause 42 that results in a Player’s ineligibility to a Club solely for games during the 2022 or 2023 NFL League Years shall not subject a Player to forfeiture of a Signing Bonus. .”

Without this language, the Browns would have the right to ask Watson for one-tenth of the $8.993 million signing bonus assigned to the 2022 salary cap for each week of the 18-week regular season missed with the 11-game suspension. The Browns would have had the ability to recapture $5,495,722 (or 11/18ths of $8.993 million) from Watson.

The pertinent language preserving Watson’s guarantees of voiding is below:

“… it will not constitute a failure or refusal to practice or play with the Club and a Player will not be in default if: … (iii) a Player is suspended only in connection with matters disclosed to a Club in writing in accordance with Clause. 42 which results in a Player’s unavailability to a Club only for games during the 2022 or 2023 NFL League Years.”

The language is significant because it prevents the Browns from potentially getting out of the contract without massive cap consequences for misconduct that was known before the trade. In other words, the Browns cannot leave the agreement due to allegations stemming from the personal conduct policy suspension. Practically speaking, the Browns would not have during the early part of the contract if possible after giving up 2022, 2023 and 2024 first-round picks, 2022 fourth-round pick, 2023 third-round pick and 2024 fourth-round pick. pick to get Watson and a 2024 sixth-round pick.

The suspension puts to bed a 17-month ordeal that will not be easily forgotten. Watson continuing to maintain his innocence Thursday despite Robinson calling his behavior predatory and “more egregious than any previously reviewed by the NFL” is overwhelmingly considered disappointing. Last week’s apology rings hollow and seems like something he did specifically so a deal could be reached.

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