The busiest movers and shakers of this weekend, the Cleveland Browns are at it again.
According to a report from NFL Media, the Browns have restructured the contract of recently-acquired wide receiver Amari Cooper. They converted most of Cooper’s $20 million base salary for the 2022 season into a signing bonus and added two void years onto the end of his contract, allowing them to spread the cap hit out over five seasons. Doing so saved the team more than $15 million on the 2022 cap.
Cooper had previously signed a five-year, $100 million contract with the Dallas Cowboys, with all of the guaranteed money contained in the first two years of the deal. Cooper was set to count against Dallas’ books for $22 million in 2022, but the trade to Cleveland knocked that number down by $16 million. He had three years and $60 million remaining on his contract at the time of the trade, all of it in base salary.
Cleveland is in the midst of creating cap room because it now has to fit the massive contract of Deshaun Watson on its books. After sending three first-round picks and two Day 3 picks to the Houston Texans to acquire Watson, the Browns lavished him with a five-year, $230 million, fully-guaranteed contract, despite the fact that the star quarterback is facing civil suits from 22 women who have accused him of sexual misconduct or sexual assault.
The contract the Browns gave Watson will reduce his cap hit for the 2022 season thanks to the microscopic $1 million base salary, which was rather transparently built into the deal to minimize the financial fallout if and when the quarterback is suspended. Still, the Browns have some work to do to fit their new quarterback onto their books, so they are restructuring the deal of his new top passing-game target.