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Around the AFC North: Browns Restructure Deshaun Watson's Contract

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson runs during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022, in Cincinnati.

Cleveland Browns: Deshaun Watson Restructure Creates Nearly $36 Million in Cap Space

The Browns have created nearly $36 million in salary-cap space by restructuring Deshaun Watson's contract, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Watson was set to count $55 million against the Browns' salary cap in 2023. Now that's been dropped to the minimum $19.1 million.

It adds $9 million to each remaining year on the deal, which will make Watson's fully-guaranteed salary-cap hit $64 million for the next three years. There's also been a void year added that will cost the Browns $9 million if they back out of the deal before 2027.

The Browns are now cap compliant and have about $22 million in salary-cap space this offseason to upgrade the rest of the roster, per OvertheCap’s Jason Fitzgerald. Cleveland is in win-now mode with Watson entering his second season and massive cap hits looming. ESPN’s Jake Trotter predicts that the Browns will be aggressive trying to land a top defensive tackle to improve their run defense that struggled last year.

"Look for the Browns to canvass [Jim] Schwartz's old team for help, beginning with Javon Hargrave, arguably the top defensive tackle on the market, who, according to team sources, is at the top of Cleveland's free agent wish list," Trotter wrote.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Mostly Focused on Re-Signing Their Own

The Steelers don't have a lot of salary-cap space with $11 million, per Spotrac, and their beat writers don't anticipate any big moves (including signing Marcus Peters, as previously speculated).

The Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac expects the Steelers to mostly build via the draft and fill in depth with free agents.

"I think that's what you will see them do, with the possible exception of an ILB or a secondary member," Dulac wrote. "Most of their attention will be focused on re-signing their own free agents and then going from there."

Among the Steelers' unrestricted free agents are defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi, inside linebackers Devin Bush and Robert Spillane, cornerback Cam Sutton, defensive lineman (and former Raven) Chris Wormley, safety Terrell Edmunds, and safety Damontae Kazee.

Cincinnati Bengals: NFLPA Sends Warning to Members About Workers' Compensation Laws

The NFLPA warned its members this weekend that the Cincinnati Bengals are looking to alter workers' compensation laws in Ohio.

Per ESPN’s Ben Baby, the Bengals are "seeking to introduce legislation that would limit professional athletes who have been under contract for five or more years from obtaining permanent partial disability compensation.

"The players' union said it believes the new legislation would require those athletes to pay for their own medical care at billed amounts instead of any reduced rates available under Ohio's workers' compensation laws."

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