The addition of QB Deshaun Watson had numerous tentacles of concern for fans of the Cleveland Browns. The off-the-field issues that led to Watson being available will linger for many fans. For some fans, the acquisition became a full stop to their support of the team.
The addition of Watson cost the Browns significant draft capital which has minimized fan interest in the NFL draft and created concern about the team’s ability to add enough talent around their quarterback.
The other limitation that has been focused on by both media and fans is the salary cap ramifications of Watson’s huge contract to go along with an expensive offensive line, extensions for Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward and Nick Chubb and Amari Cooper’s contract. Currently, Cleveland is projected to be $11 million over the salary cap.
GM Andrew Berry is not too worried about the cap, noting that it is an accounting tool that has multiple ways around it:
Berry seems confident that he can make cap space pic.twitter.com/rDwYB6MHNf— Jared Mueller (@JaredKMueller) February 28, 2023
According to the cap expert at The OBR, Jack Duffin, Berry can create significant cap space pretty easily including waiting long enough to make the Baltimore Ravens pay more money in a franchise tag:
#Browns Currently Cap Space ($11,650,552)— Jack Duffin (@JackDuffin) February 28, 2023
Watson +$35.936m (post Lamar tag, costs Ravens more)
Cap Space $53,475,488
Browns don’t need permission to restructure!https://t.co/mDrfBcHuik
Duffin’s article has information on Jakeem Grant’s new contract and more details but its clear from just the information in the above tweet that Berry’s comfort is based in easy accounting moves.
As the Browns GM noted in the above video, creating cap space just to create cap space isn’t required (beyond getting below the current cap). While they can easily create space, Berry will only need to in order to make specific moves if they become available.
While fans and media may be concerned about the salary cap, Cleveland’s front office seems much less concerned.