Sean Pendergast

Five People Who Should Be Livid With Deshaun Watson's New Contract

Other NFL owners have to be pretty angry with Deshaun Watson's new deal.
Other NFL owners have to be pretty angry with Deshaun Watson's new deal. Photo by Eric Sauseda
The dirty little secret about Deshaun Watson's sparkly new, five year, $230 million fully guaranteed contract with the Cleveland Browns has nothing to do with the 22 open civil lawsuits against him for sexual misconduct. The dirty little secret is that, for a guy who just became the highest paid player in the history of our country's most popular professional league, Deshaun Watson has not accomplished all that much.

Oh, don't get me wrong, he is a tremendously talented football player, with a skillset that puts him on or near the level of the most uber-talented signal callers in football, names like Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, Josh Allen. From a purely physical talent perspective, Watson is right there with those guys.

This is not to say Watson has accomplished nothing in his time in the league. He's been to three Pro Bowls, and he led the league in passing yardage in 2020, on a team that finished 4-12. However, on the things quarterbacks are ultimately measured by — Super Bowl wins, playoff wins, MVP votes — Watson is practically empty. One playoff win, that's it.

Yeah, the optics of a guy who's been accused of the things Watson has been accused of becoming the highest paid player in league history is bad, no doubt. However, purely from a football standpoint, Watson smashing through the guaranteed money ceiling so emphatically is illogical (but honestly, probably a testament to how great his agent, David Mulugheta, is at his job).

Jimmy Haslem îs the owner of the Browns, and I would imagine there are fellow owners who are livid over the seismic salary structure recalibration he's executed. Specifically, these five owners are going to have some painful negotiations with their quarterbacks in the next year or two:

5. CLARK HUNT, Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes actually signed a mega-extension back in the summer of 2020, a record-setting (at the time) half a billion dollar contract with well over $100 million guaranteed. We will have gotten through the guaranteed money portion fo the contract within the next season or so. If I were Leigh Steinberg, Mahomes' agent, I'd be marching into Hunt's office and reminding the Chiefs' owner that my client has won a Super Bowl, been to a second one, won an MVP, and been to the AFC title game four straight seasons. Mahomes should be on Hunt's calendar yesterday. I'm guessing Int wasn't planning on addressing Mahomes' contract for several more years, but here we are.

4. DEAN SPANOS, Los Angeles Chargers
Spanos' franchise quarterback, Justin Herbert, just finished up his second year in the league, and while the Chargers barely missed out on the postseason, Herbert himself had a dynamite sophomore season. Herbert threw for over 5,000 yards and 38 touchdowns, and was the starter in the Pro Bowl in a stacked AFC. Herbert is not eligible for a contract extension until after the 2022 season, but when that time comes, Herbert should be ready to make big demands.

3. MIKE BROWN, Cincinnati Bengals
Hey, you think Herbert has a case for a Watson-esque extension after this coming season? How about the first overall pick in Herbert's draft class, the Bengals' Joe Burrow. Burrow has actually transformed one of the most downtrodden franchises in all of team sports, and took them to the Super Bowl last month. Hell, he damn near won the thing! Burrow is a guy who has won big in college (national title at LSU), and has now made a case for being the next big thing in the NFL. Burrow can also, with a straight face, say his accomplishments in two seasons supersede Watson's in five seasons. A Super Bowl means that much.

2. STEVE BISCIOTTI, Baltimore Ravens
Now, we get into the young quarterbacks who are actually in negotiations with their teams on contract extensions. Jackson was the 32nd overall pick in the 2018 draft class, with four quarterbacks taken ahead of him. Of those four quarterbacks taken ahead of him, Josh Allen is the only one that has panned out, and he secured his big deal before the 2021 season, over $43 million per year. Jackson, though, is the only QB in his draft class to win an MVP award, taking home the hardware back in 2019. Right now, it appears as though the negotiations between the Ravens and Jackson are tepid, at best, with Jackson seemingly content to play things out on the franchise tag after this season.

1. MICHAEL BIDWELL, Arizona Cardinals
Finally, the one quarterback who is eligible for an extension, AND has made a big stink over where things stand with his team — Kyler Murray of the Arizona Cardinals. Murray has yet to win a playoff game, but he's made two Pro Bowls in three seasons, and made his first playoff appearance in January. Murray's career, thus far, probably most closely mirrors Watson's, if we are being honest. However, the negotiations between Murray and the Cardinals are contentious, at best, right now.
Okay, then.

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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast