The Cleveland Browns have reportedly signed cornerback Denzel Ward to a five-year contract extension.
The deal was first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who cited Ward’s agent, Tory Dandy of CAA Sports, as the source.
Browns are signing Pro-Bowl CB Denzel Ward to a 5-year, $100.5 million contract extension that includes $71.25 million guaranteed, per source. At age 24, Ward is the highest-paid CB in NFL history.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 18, 2022
Tory Dandy of CAA Sports, who negotiated the contract, confirmed the deal to ESPN
The extension is reportedly for $100.5 million, with $71.25 million in guaranteed money, which works out to an average of $20.1 million a year. That makes Ward, at least for the moment, the league’s highest-paid cornerback on an annual basis, just edging out Jalen Ramsey of the Los Angeles Rams, whose current salary checks in at an average of $20 million per season.
Ward will make just a bit north of $13.2 million this fall on the final year of his rookie contract.
A first-round selection by the Browns in the 2018 NFL Draft, Ward has made two Pro Bowls while starting 51 games. He has 10 interceptions – including two pick-sixes – a half sack, and 50 passes defensed.
Ward is the latest core player that general manager Andrew Berry has signed to a contract extension, joining offensive linemen Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller, running back Nick Chubb, and defensive end Myles Garrett.
The extension also keeps Ward paired with second-year cornerback Greg Newsome II, giving the Browns the pair of cornerbacks needed to take on the high-profile quarterbacks and wide receivers that currently populate the AFC.
The lone issue with Ward is that he has struggled at times to stay on the field. He missed four games in each of his first four seasons while dealing with hamstring and calf injuries, a two concussions and a stay on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, then two games last while dealing with another hamstring injury and another bout with COVID-19.
Lowest completion percentage allowed when targeted since 2018:— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) April 18, 2022
1. Stephon Gilmore 50.2%
2. Xavien Howard 51.8%
3. Denzel Ward 53.5% @ESPNStatsInfo
But when he has been on the field, Ward has shown his value and proved worthy of being the fourth-overall selection in his draft class, something that has not always been the case with the Browns over the years.