Ward was selected No. 4 overall by the Browns in the 2018 NFL Draft — just three picks after the team took Baker Mayfield.
The Cleveland Browns made their second significant move this offseason, inking hometown cornerback Denzel Ward to a record contract extension, according to multiple reports.
The five-year extension is worth $100.5 million, which would make Ward the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL at $20.1 million a year, according to the NFL Network. The deal reportedly includes $71.25 million in guaranteed money.
His annual average salary puts him slightly ahead of Los Angeles Rams star Jalen Ramsey, who was the highest-paid cornerback at $20 million per season.
“I been waiting on somebody else to touch that 100 club & you DEFINITELY DESERVE IT @denzelward … congrats,” Ramsey tweeted on Monday after the news broke.
Ward, 24, recently completed his fourth season with the Browns after the team selected him No. 4 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. Ward, a Pro Bowler in 2018 and 2021, had 43 total tackles and three interceptions last season, including one against Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, which he returned 99 yards for a touchdown.
In 52 games with the Browns, Ward has 10 career interceptions and 50 passes defended. The extension was the second significant move that Cleveland made this offseason.
In 2018, Ward was taken just three picks after the team selected quarterback Baker Mayfield, who is currently in NFL limbo following the decision by Cleveland to trade for Deshaun Watson earlier this year.
Watson, who is facing 22 civil lawsuits over sexual assault allegations, landed a fully guaranteed $230 million contract from the Browns following the trade from the Houston Texans. After 2022, Watson is reportedly set to make $46 million in each season through 2026.
As for Ward, the hometown product was born in Cleveland and played football at Ohio State. He said before minicamp last season that he hoped he would play his entire career with the Browns. The team had already picked up his fifth-year option for 2022.
“Perfect world, I would definitely want to be a Brown for my entire career,’’ Ward said, via The Plain Dealer. “I’m from Cleveland, the team that drafted me. The team that believed in me coming out of college and I take a lot of pride and respect into that. Just want to give my all to this team. It’s definitely a place I would want to be. I enjoy being a Cleveland Brown and giving them everything I got.”
Ward will likely remain in Ohio for years to come. The extension runs through 2027.