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NFL

Will the Browns still pay Deshaun Watson if he is suspended for the season?

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson will face an NFL disciplinary hearing on Tuesday, and reports indicate he could be handed a long suspension.

Update:
Deshaun Watson con los Browns
Nick CammettAFP

The NFL will begin its disciplinary hearing on Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson on Tuesday in relation to cases filed against him for sexual misconduct and abuse.

The league is reportedly eyeing to hand down an indefinite suspension with a minimum of one year, but what exactly will this mean financially for Watson?

Watson’s ‘small’ starting salary

Cleveland signed the 26-year-old to a mammoth five-year, $230 million contract in March. One detail worthy of note in the the fully guaranteed deal was that his base salary for the first year was listed at $1 million, probably in anticipation of a possible suspension stemming from the charges against him.

If he is suspended for part of a year, his pay would be computed from that base, which is a pittance compared to the $46 million that he would have received if the pay were spread out evenly over five years.

One-year suspension would put off Watson’s contract

However, if he is suspended for a full year, then his contract would be “tolled” or postponed for the whole season, and would begin in 2023 instead of this year. In this scenario, he would not be paid for the whole of 2022.

His $1 million paycheck for one year would take effect in 2023, which is when his agreement would begin, and his deal would run through 2027 instead of 2026.

Even if he were suspended without pay for an entire year, Watson would still have money coming in. His contract provided for a $45 million guaranteed signing bonus, and according to Spotrac, the language in the agreement indicates that this bonus will not be forfeited. That means he could receive the full amount this year even if he gets suspended, or $9 million if the bonus is prorated across five years.

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