NFL quarterback Deshaun Watson looking down the field to throw the ball against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field
Deshaun Watson joins the Cleveland Browns and becomes the NFL’s guaranteed money king. (Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
PLAYER CONTRACTS PLAYERS & TEAM EARNINGS

Deshaun Watson: Inside His Record-setting Contract with the Browns

He’s the newest member of the Cleveland Browns — who immediately made him the new No. 1 on the all-time NFL guaranteed money list. Let’s explore the Deshaun Watson trade and contract extension.

When the Buffalo Bills extended Josh Allen in the fall of 2021, they made him the richest man in NFL history based on guaranteed money: a cool $150 million. Not to be outdone, the Green Bay Packers guaranteed Aaron Rodgers a few bucks more earlier this week. But on Friday, the Cleveland Browns shocked the football establishment to the tune of:

  1. Trading a boatload of draft assets to the Texans for quarterback Deshaun Watson
  2. Immediately extending him to the tune of five years and $230 million, with every dollar fully guaranteed.

It’s a stunning bit of news in a week already full of it thanks to the likes of Khalil Mack, Rodgers, and Davante Adams. Naturally, it’s a lot to sift through.

Whether you’re more surprised by the Deshaun Watson trade or the Deshaun Watson contract, let’s wrap up the week by diving into the details for both.

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Deshaun Watson Contract Details & Salary

Years: 5
Total value: $230,000,000
Average annual value: $46,000,000
Guaranteed money: $230,000,000
Free agency: 2027

The Browns didn’t just blow away Allen’s guaranteed bag record; they obliterated it with a package more than 50% bigger. The $230 million pact is:

  • The No. 1 biggest contract of the 2022 NFL offseason by total value
  • No. 2 this offseason (and NFL history overall) behind Aaron Rodgers by average annual value
  • No. 3 in NFL history behind Patrick Mahomes and Allen by total value
  • The first 100% guaranteed quarterback extension since Kirk Cousins in 2018

It’s a stronger-than-strong signal that the Browns are undeterred by the sexual misconduct accusations that sidelined Watson for the entirety of the 2021 season. A grand jury decided earlier this month that Watson would not face criminal charges.

And of course, the massive figures don’t stop there. After all, this wasn’t a free agent deal — the Browns had to put together a serious trade package to get Watson out of Houston.

Browns-Texans Deshaun Watson Trade Breakdown

Cleveland Browns get:

  • QB Deshaun Watson
  • One fifth-round draft pick

Houston Texans get:

  • Three first-round draft picks
  • One third-round draft pick
  • One fifth-round draft pick

Deshaun Watson’s Career Earnings

CAREER BASE SALARY: $14,077,148
CAREER SIGNING BONUSES: $35,215,841
OTHER BONUSES/INCENTIVES: $2,102,489
TOTAL SALARY EARNINGS THRU 2021 SEASON: $51,395,478

TOTAL SALARY EARNINGS THRU 2026 SEASON: $281,395,478

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