Denzel Ward Signs Record Extension with the Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns have locked up cornerback Denzel Ward with a record extension on Monday as confirmed to ESPN by Ward’s agent. The contract will pay Ward $100.5 million across five seasons with $71.25 million guaranteed. The deal makes him the highest paid cornerback in NFL history and locks him to the Browns through the rest of his 20s.
The Browns have now signed three record-setting contracts within the last two years. In 2020, the team signed pass rusher Myles Garrett to a contract of $125 million over five years including a then-record $100 million guaranteed for a defensive player. That deal doesn’t start until this upcoming season and is also worth a defensive player record of $25 million a season. The latter record has since been broken by the Pittsburgh Steelers’ TJ Watt ($28 million per year) and the Los Angeles Chargers’ Joey Bosa ($27 million per year).
Previously this off-season, the team signed quarterback Deshaun Watson to a record five-year, $230 million contract that is fully guaranteed. The team acquired the controversial quarterback and a 2024 sixth-round draft pick for six draft picks from the Houston Texans, including the Browns’ first round pick in each of the next three seasons.
Ward’s extension won’t start until the 2023 season as he will play this upcoming season under the fifth-year from his rookie contract. He is set to earn $13.294 million this year with it being fully guaranteed. In total, he will earn $113.544 million through the 2027 season.
When adding Garrett’s and Watson’s contracts, the Browns now have $468.544 million committed to three players through the 2027 season with $414.544 million of it full guaranteed. The good news for Browns’ fans is that all three of these players are just now entering their prime. Ward is still only 24 while Garrett and Watson are only 26. The team also has 26-year old star running back Nick Chubb signed through the 2024 season after he signed a three-year $36.6 million contract extension prior to last season. $20 million of that deal is guaranteed.
The Browns now have the two cornerstones of their offense and their defense locked up through, at least, the 2024 season. While Chubb’s deal is team friendly in comparison, the other three are all significant cap hits. While locking up the quality of the talent that they have is important, it’ll be interesting to see how they manage to build a strong roster surrounding their expensive star players.