Did the Browns Overpay?

Did we overpay for Watson? At $230M/5 it is $46M/yr average. That is top 5 QB money and Watson is maybe a top 10 QB? Rogers, Mahomes, Burrows, Jackson, Herbert, Wilson, Allen, Brady (no particular order) are clearly at the top. Stafford, Prescott, Murray, Ryan, Carr, Cousins, Tannehill & Watson next group? Might be coming soon are Jones, Lawrence & other young QBs?

Timing is everything. 3 of the above 16 with proven records are in the twilight of their careers. 3 more are past their prime. 3 have already done first extensions setting the bar. 2 are lining up for their first extension. 2 are not yet eligible for an extension. That leaves Watson, Carr & Tannehill. Every new contract sets a new bar and by most assessments Watson is better than both Carr & Tannehill. I expect that Jackson & Murray will be the same value as Allen. They will soon be followed by Burrows & Herbert. The market for very good young QBs on an extension will be $40-45M/yr.

Watson’s divorce with the Texans and his civil cases might have actually inflated his value. He was, with his no trade clause, acting essentially as a free agent. All of the above QBs were negotiating or will negotiate with their team only. Jackson may be trying to set up a Cousins/Prescott type of play for leverage.

The focus on the guarantee is misdirected. Watson’s body of work is better and more consistent than both Goff & Wentz. He could fall apart but it isn’t a probability. Such a good QB is never exposed to the free market so why the concern that we need non-guaranteed years as an escape? The real issue is the guarantee escrow. Will Mike Brown be able to sink $160M of today’s dollars to sign Burrows? This new bar separates the owners with cash from those without.

3 first round draft choices, a third and 2 day three picks over the next 3 years? For a proven QB to a young team already loaded with talent. I think we got a bargain. I would have expected to lose Ward and/or JOK in the trade with a bunch of picks. Day 3 picks are a crap shoot, usually for depth. If it goes as we hope the next 2 years the day one picks will be in the bottom half of the round. There isn’t usually a large difference in the quality of players chosen between 15 and 50.

In my mind the overpay will be how many games Watson is suspended & when does the suspension occur? If he fights all 22 and the courts do them each separately and the NFL doesn’t make a call until all 22 are resolved then it could be late in a future season. If it is 4 to 6 games at the start of 2022 we would be done with it. If he is exonerated on all 22 it was a lot of noise. This is the gamble on the field. I can’t evaluate the impact of fans, ticket sales or team reputation. I think that history has shown it will work itself out over time.

I’d rather not have seen them take the gamble but I appreciate the effort to get us a top team. We have deserved a top team for a long time. Better football minds than mine decided that Baker couldn’t take us to that level and instead of sitting on their hands they’ve taken a big gamble. Got to admire the effort from a FO that has been ridiculed as too analytical.

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