3 players who robbed the Browns blind in 2023

These 3 players made a lot of money in 2023 but hardly delivered for the Cleveland Browns

Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns
Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns / Nick Cammett/GettyImages
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1. Deshaun Watson, QB

No player has a more scrutinized contract than Deshaun Watson. Cleveland not only gave up three first-round picks and a third-round selection to land him in a trade but they then gave him a five-year contract worth $230 million. As if that wasn't enough, they even made sure he got all of that cash since his deal was fully guaranteed.

The Browns were banking on Watson being under center and earning that contract, just not in year one. They knew he would be suspended for a major portion of the 2022 campaign, which wound up being 11 games. To help him out, they even structured his contract so that he had a cap hit of $9.4 million. That meant he didn't miss out on nearly as much money as he should have while suspended.

Again, this was done with the hope he would be the franchise quarterback they've needed for decades. Instead, they got six starts this year, including one game where he threw just five passes before being sidelined. The good news for Cleveland is they were 5-1 in those games, with P.J. Walker earning an assist against Indianapolis. The bad news is that they're on the hook for nearly $20 million this year alone and got hardly anything in return. Even when he did play, he was sporadic and we often heard how he "needed to knock the rust off."

His contract is also structured in a way that they would face a cap hit of $200 million in 2024 if they wanted to move on. It goes down to $136 million in 2025 and $73 million after that. Simply put, the Browns are stuck with Watson, even with Joe Flacco proving they can win without him. Yet they continue to pay him to be an elite quarterback.

Perhaps he will bounce back in 2024 and look like the player we saw in Houston. If so, this roster could contend for a Super Bowl for the next few years. But as it stands now, he hasn't come close to living up to his salary.

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