The Cleveland Browns took a lot of heat for the deal they made with Deshaun Watson but the recent Geno Smith contract shows they were simply paying market price
Every year, it happens and every year someone is shocked. Quarterbacks in the NFL continue to secure astronomical contracts and whenever the newest signal-caller signs his deal, there are serious overreactions.
This was the case with the Cleveland Browns when they traded for Deshaun Watson and promptly signed him to a five-year deal worth $230 million. Of course, his money was fully guaranteed but those criticizing this are also ignoring the fact that he had 13 teams fighting for him, so Cleveland had to do something to stand out.
Heading into this season, the criticism only grew when the focus turned to the $55 million hit against the cap Watson currently has. That won't be the case when the season begins since restructures exist, but for now, it's been a talking point — and many have picked on the Browns for it.
On Monday, it was proven (again) that Cleveland didn't do anything outside of the norm as the Seattle Seahawks signed Geno Smith to a three-year deal for $105 million which includes $52 million in 2023.
First off — congratulations to Smith. He was one of the feel-good stories of the year in 2022. He went from Russell Wilson's backup to the guy who took Seattle back to the playoffs.
He was fantastic with 4,282 yards and a 30-to-11 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Having said that, he's been in the league since 2013 and this was just the third seaosn he was a regular starter. And the first tome since 2014.
As for Watson, he's been the starter whenever healthy since taking over early in his rookie season of 2017. He's twice topped the 4,000-yard mark and has more yardage and touchdowns (as well as fewer interceptions) in his career than Smith. Every statistic proves Watson is the superior quarterback yet just $3 million will separate the two in 2023.
Of course, the main issue with Watson is his off-field concerns. But the Browns didn't do anything that 12 other teams weren't willing to do. They traded for a supremely talented quarterback and paid him what quarterbacks make.
Smith's new contract proves that before long, this is going to look like a bargain.
Even so, don't expect anyone to notice. They didn't notice when Kyler Murray got a deal similar to Watson's, even though his team didn't even trust him to study the playbook. They also ignored the fact that Dak Prescott was at $50 million this season, and surely wouldn't compare Watson to Daniel Jones if he got the $45 million per season he's asking for after one good year in the NFL.
Instead, just get used to the criticism and the false narrative that every NFL owner is mad they have to pay their quarterbacks because of the Browns. But also, be happy they did pay theirs first because everyone else will now get more.