The Cleveland Browns signed rookie cornerback Denzel Ward to a four-year slotted rookie contract, general manager John Dorsey announced during a press conference on Wednesday.
“We have come to an agreement with (DB) Denzel Ward and his representatives,” Dorsey said during his introductory remarks. “That will be executed here pretty soon.
“Again, that will be moving forward. That is important, too, because those guys want to be here and they want to compete.”
Ward was the final domino to fall, solidifying the Browns’ 2018 draft class one day before the team’s training camp kicks off in Berea. Ward then reported to camp on schedule with his teammates on Wednesday.
Ward’s deal is for four years, with a fifth-year team option, and includes a $29 million total salary with another $19.2 million in a signing bonus, per AP’s Tom Withers.
Having the young speedster defensive back in camp on time is a good feeling. Ward, the fourth-overall pick in April’s draft, figures to play heavily in Gregg Williams’ revamped secondary. The group lacked speed in recent years, so upon arrival Dorsey has made it a point to invest in faster players capable of hanging with receivers for longer periods, allowing Williams’ pass rush more time to get to the quarterback.
Although young cornerbacks tend to lag behind in their rookie seasons, that’s not the rule, and shouldn’t be for a player drafted in the top five. The sooner Ward can get on the field playing meaningful snaps, the better.
Cleveland’s secondary needs all the help it can get.