Maybe Andrew Berry is tired of hearing about how his Deshaun Watson deal will handicap him for years.
Or maybe the Cleveland Browns GM simply knows what he has in Denzel Ward.
All that matters to his fans is that Ward signed a record-setting, 5-year, $100.5 million contract extension today.
The $20.1 million average salary is just a bit higher than Jalen Ramsey‘s $20 million deal.
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.
Tory Dandy of CAA Sports, who negotiated the contract, confirmed the deal to ESPN
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 18, 2022
Because Ward plays this season on his fifth-year option, he isn’t officially the highest-paid corner.
But he’ll still be the best cornerback on the field most weeks, locking down one side of the field.
With Gregory Newsome on the other side, the Browns boast one of the top starting cornerback tandems in the NFL.
🗣 DENZEL WARD IS BACK! pic.twitter.com/aBy0hwOMOp
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) November 10, 2021
Troy Hill manning the slot with Greedy Williams backing them all up only cements such a claim.
Today is Denzel Ward’s day, as the Ohio native gets paid to stay home with the Browns.
But he’ll excuse the rest of the folks in Northern Ohio if they join him in celebrating this deal.
Ward Lands Big Guarantee, Too
Ward didn’t get the 100% guaranteed contract that Deshaun Wilson got.
But he’ll hardly complain about the $71.25 million that Berry did guarantee.
The deal runs through the 2027 season.
Cleveland’s defensive cornerstone has often said he’d like to pay his entire career with the Browns.
Denzel Ward > Jalen Ramsey for almost no other reason but for this play #Browns
— CleWest (@erjmanlasvegas) April 18, 2022
After playing for Nordonia High School and Ohio State, Berea seems like a natural place for him.
Ward is coming off his best season and his second Pro Bowl selection.
His 99-yard pick-six against Cincinnati is the Browns’ biggest and most-memorable play of 2021.
That guy from @OhioStateFB has secured the bag 💼 🏈 #Browns @denzelward does it different 🔥 pic.twitter.com/X0oigRGh6Y
— ESPN Cleveland (@ESPNCleveland) April 18, 2022
Kevin Stefanski sat Ward for one game due to a hamstring injury, and he missed another with Covid-19.
But that was enough to allay any fears of an “injury-prone” label as extension talks began.
Improved tackling, 10 passes defensed, and 3 interceptions didn’t hurt negotiations, either.
What It Means For The Browns
Andrew Berry put a happy end to one of the Browns fans’ biggest calls of action this offseason.
Ward is an extremely popular player among the Cleveland faithful.
But his signing does more than make fans happy and strengthen his team’s defense.
Berry just sent a message to the entire NFL that the Watson deal will not hamper operations going forward.
Denzel Ward DE-CLEAT !! pic.twitter.com/feKYboVZUc
— McNeil (@Reflog_18) December 12, 2021
There was some concern that Cleveland would play things cheap to offset the quarterback’s future cap hits.
In case anyone doubted the salary cap-bending tricks Berry has up his sleeves, Ward gets top money.
This is especially impressive given the narrative that Ward would have considered a hometown discount.
Northeast Ohio native Denzel Ward said he wants to finish his career with the team that drafted him No. 4 overall in 2018. https://t.co/poqTBvaCYy
— clevelanddotcom (@clevelanddotcom) June 16, 2021
Free agents and rookies know good play still can and will be rewarded in Berea.
Cleveland’s cornerback room has to be among the best in the NFL with solid depth behind Ward.
Locking their Pro Bowler up for 5 years could make one of those depth pieces available in the weeks ahead.
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