4 contracts holding Cleveland Browns back right now

Deshaun Watson's contract continues to be a burden for the Cleveland Browns but there are other concerns as well

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1. Deshaun Watson, QB

This one might not need to be said, but we're going to go there anyway. Deshaun Watson signed a record-breaking deal in 2022 as he and the Browns agreed to a five-year contract worth a fully guaranteed $230 million. Other quarterbacks have gotten fully guaranteed deals in the past but none had that length. Nor did they have the dark cloud hanging over them that Watson had.

When Watson was traded from Houston to Cleveland, he was facing more than 20 counts of sexual misconduct. He settled many of those out of court but still has one case pending. It was known that Watson, who faced no criminal charges, was likely going to be punished by the NFL. Eventually, he settled with the league on an 11-game suspension.

That meant there would be closure for the team as they expected Watson back in Week 13 of 2022. The problem was that they would be getting a player who sat out the entire 2021 season due to issues with the Texans and then missed 11 games due to his off-field issues. Nearly two years away from meaningful action left him incredibly rusty during the final six games of the year.

Watson returned to the field this year and we were supposed to see a revitalized player. Instead, we got six more games where he was often rusty. Then, he was out for the season with a shoulder injury. Cleveland continued to win without him but they believe he's the one who can push them over the hump. Or at least they did believe that at one point — no one will admit if that's changed now.

What we do know is this team is talented but they're missing key pieces — especially when it comes to skill players on offense. Ironically enough, the quarterback they brought in to utilize their skill players is the main hold-up as they look to improve the offense.

Watson heads into 2024 with a cap hit of $63.98 million. Sure, they're likely going to kick the can down the road with a restructure but that will only help if they start adding years to the deal — and if he doesn't improve his consistency, that won't be ideal. That means the player they brought in to fix their issues might be in the way after a couple of years — unless he suddenly finds his 2020 form once again.

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