Within a 48-hour period, the Cleveland Browns restructured the contracts of Guard Joel Bitonio and Defensive End Myles Garrett, freeing up over $20 million dollars in cap space. The Cleveland Browns now have close to $34 million dollars in 2023 cap space which is the most in the NFL. These moves bring questions and speculation as to what is general manager Andrew Berry up to.
As the national pundits continue to wring their hands and harp on the $230 million dollar guaranteed money that Deshaun Watson is getting. Andrew Berry is making strategic moves for the long-term and short-term future of the Cleveland Browns. These moves come right after the Indianapolis Colts gave their franchise running back Johnathan Taylor permission to seek a trade. He is on the last year of his rookie contract; his salary would count $5.1 million dollars toward the Colts 2023 salary cap. Taylor is seeking a lucrative extension and he is only 24 years old. The Colts want a first-round pick or an assortment of picks for a Taylor trade. The Browns do not have a first-round pick in 2024 since the Deshaun Watson trade in 2022.
Could Taylor be a Nick Chubb insurance policy in 2023? Could he be the answer to the running back depth question? A Nick Chubb and Johnathan Taylor backfield would be amazing in this offense. The Browns have the cap space and win-now attitude. But they may be short of the draft capital to acquire Taylor. However, it is an intriguing thought.
These moves were probably made with the future in mind of the Cleveland Browns. It is the 4D chess that GM Andrew Berry plays with the salary cap. I believe he is thinking of the 2024 offseason and beyond that.
Many national reporters and commentators still bring up Watson’s guaranteed salary. Yes, it was unprecedented for any player to get that much money guaranteed. That contract was signed over a year and a half ago, today Watson is no longer the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL. He is now ranked 6th in quarterback salary at $46 million a year. The difference is the amount of guaranteed money. So far in hindsight, it appears that Andrew Berry was ahead of the quarterback salary curve. All that remains is for Watson to return to his 2020 form.
It is obvious that the Cleveland Browns have yet to earn a reputation as a well-run organization. The Browns are built for success this season and for more seasons to come. Many naysayers and critics feel that the current team cannot be successful just because it’s the Browns. They won’t even bother to take an analytical look at a very good team, with a very good roster and the most salary cap in the NFL.
For many years sports writers have dubbed Cleveland as a sleeping giant of a sports town. Could that sleeping giant finally have been awakened? Awakened to smell what Andrew Berry is cooking.