Agent Response: Deshon Watson’s potential suspension has various financial implications

A crucial step in deciding the playing status of Browns quarterback Deshon Watson for the 2022 season. A disciplinary hearing to determine whether Watson violated the NFL’s Privacy Policy the event began on Tuesday.

Watson has faced 24 civil lawsuits on charges of sexual misconduct during massage sessions with Houston Texans. Twenty of the 24 cases were settled last week. Two grand juries in Texas have refused to prosecute Watson, who denied committing wrongdoing earlier this year.

Retired U.S. District Court Judge Sue L. Robinson, who was co-appointed by the NFL and NFLPA, is conducting the hearing. The procedure is expected to last several days.

Procedurally, the NFL had to inform Robinson, Watson, and the NFLPA of the recommended discipline at least 10 days prior to the hearing, according to the NFL Collective Agreement. There are many NFL messages looking for indefinite suspension lasting at least one year. Talks between the NFL and NFLPA / Watson before the hearing failed to reach an agreement.

There is no set schedule for Robinson to issue a decision. Ideally, the decision will be made before the opening of the Browns training camp on July 27. A finding of no policy breach, which does not seem likely, would be the final solution to the case.

Both parties have three working days to file a complaint if discipline is imposed. Commissioner Roger Goodell, or someone he appoints as his appointee, will preside over the appeal, with the freedom to increase, decrease or confirm Robinson’s sentence.

Signing of bonus confiscation / cancellation of guarantees

Whether Watson gets an annual suspension or will be allowed to play football this season, the $ 44.965 million bonus on signing a fully guaranteed five-year, $ 230 million contract he signed in March as part of his Texas trade is not in jeopardy. because of the way the contract is structured. Watson’s salary guarantees will not be void in either case.

This is because of the specific language in Watson’s contract. The corresponding language for the signing bonus is as follows.

“… suspension by the NFL only in respect of matters disclosed to the club in writing in accordance with paragraph 42, which results in the player’s inaccessibility to the club only for games during the NFL 2022 or 2023 League years, does not subject the player withdrawal of the signing bonus “

Without that language, the Browns would be entitled to ask Watson for $ 8.993 million in the signing bonus attributed to the 2022 pay cap with a one-year suspension. That would be one-eighteenth of the $ 8.993 million signing bonus attributed to the 2022 salary cap for each week of the 18-week regular season that Watson missed with a shorter elimination. For example, a suspension of eight games would give Brown the opportunity to get back $ 3,996,889 (or eighteenth of $ 8,993 million) from Watson.

Technically, Watson has not received any of his signing bonuses. Fifteen million is payable on July 31. Another $ 15 million is due next January 31, and the last $ 14.965 million is due next March 31. Deferred salaries do not affect the exemption.

Removals are free of charge, but this applies to the basic salary. Because Watson’s base salary for 2022 is $ 1.035 million, he will lose $ 57,500 (or one-eighteenth of $ 1.035 million) for each week he misses due to suspension.

Below is the appropriate language that protects Watson’s warranties from cancellation.

“… this does not constitute a failure or refusal to train or play with the Club and the Player will not be in default if: … (iii) the Player is removed only in connection with matters disclosed to the Club in writing in accordance with paragraph 42 which makes the player unavailable to the club only for games in the 2022 or 2023 NFL. “

Language is important because it does not allow Brown to potentially withdraw from the contract without the huge consequences of the restriction due to misconduct that was known before the deal. It is assumed that any additional allegations in connection with massage sessions while Watson was with the Texans will not qualify as a new violation.

In other words, Brown could not leave the deal due to allegations stemming from the massages. In practice, Browns would not do this, even if it were possible, after giving up the first round for 2022, 2023 and 2024, choosing a fourth round of 2022, choosing a third round of 2023 and choosing a fourth round of 2024 to get Watson and a sixth round selection in 2024.

These restrictions apply to the first two years of the contract. If any discipline arises from these issues after 2023, Brown will have the right to request a refund of the bonus money from Watson and / or cancel the remaining guarantees in the contract.

Consequences of a one-year suspension

The biggest consequence of the one-year suspension is Watson’s contract, which is currently in effect until 2026, will be paid. In essence, Watson’s contract will be frozen and renewed in 2023 at a charge. This means that his contract year 2022 will become his contract year 2023 and the additional years in the contract will also be postponed by one year. Instead of Watson’s contract expiring after the 2026 season, it will end after the 2027 season.

Although the contract will be postponed by one year, the proportional signing bonus of $ 8.993 million per year from 2022 to 2026 will remain intact. Watson’s salary cap for 2022 is $ 10.028 million, which consists of $ 8.993 million from the proportional salary bonus and his base salary of $ 1.035 million. That base salary will come out of Cleveland’s books for $ 1.035 million from the 2022 ceiling easing.

Watson’s maximum number 2023 will be $ 10.028 million, with his base salary for 2022 shifting to 2023 and his base salary of $ 46 million from 2023 shifting to 2024. Maximum numbers for 2024 to 2026 will each be $ 54.993 million, made up of $ 94 million. bonus proportion. The maximum number for 2027 will be the base salary of 46 million dollars, which was originally for 2026.

Branches of shorter suspension

Another important branch of the one-year suspension would be the expulsion of Watson from the training camp. This will not be the case with leaving, which allows him to play football in 2022. Watson will have the right to participate fully in the training camp and play in the pre-season games of the Browns. The suspension will not take effect until September 5, the day after the end of the pre-season training camps, as determined by the CBA.

Watson’s contract does not include a suspension where he can play football in 2022. The years of his contract will expire on purpose, which means that his deal will end after the 2026 season. Watson will lose any basic salary that is not earned due to stopping. For example, a suspension of eight games would cost Watson $ 460,000 (or the eighteenth of $ 1.035 million), as he earns $ 57,500 each of the 18 weeks in the regular season.

Watson will be allowed back into the teams and will be allowed to participate in limited activities during the second half of the suspension. Eligible activities would be virtually the same as players removed under NFL substance abuse and efficiency policies.

Most importantly, Watson will be able to attend team meetings, train individually with Brown’s strength and fitness coach, meet individually with Brown’s head coach Kevin Stefanski, offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt and defender coach Drew Petzing. and receive treatment / rehabilitation from Brown’s medical staff and coaches after the fourth game of eight-game penalties. Prohibited activities throughout the suspension include attending, observing or participating in training, going home or playing outside, and attending or participating in group training.

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