The Cleveland Browns are signing Pro Bowl cornerback Denzel Ward to a five-year, $100.5 million contract extension that includes $71.25 million guaranteed, Tory Dandy of CAA Sports, who negotiated the contract, told ESPN's Adam Schefter.
At age 24, Ward is now the highest-paid cornerback in NFL history. The $20.1 million average annual salary puts him ahead of Jalen Ramsey, who had been the highest-paid cornerback at $20 million per season on the deal he signed with the Los Angeles Rams in 2020.
Ramsey congratulated Ward on his new deal, tweeting: "I been waiting on somebody else to touch that 100 club & you DEFINITELY DESERVE IT @denzelward ... congrats."
Ward is now under contract with the Browns for six more years, through the 2027 season. He is under contract for $13.294 million this season after the Browns exercised the fifth-year option on his contract last year.
The Browns selected Ward fourth overall in 2018, the same draft the team selected quarterback Baker Mayfield No. 1 overall. Ward got a second contract from the Browns, but Mayfield and the franchise are headed for a separation after Cleveland traded for quarterback Deshaun Watson and signed him to a fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million extension.
The Browns have spent $340.5 million in guaranteed money on all contracts this offseason, the most in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That includes extensions, not only the money given to free agents, and $301.25 million of that total was given to Watson and Ward.
Ward tweeted thanks to the Browns "for continuing to to believe in the home grown kid and allowing me to represent this organization and city of Cleveland where I'm from." He also thanked Dandy for the work he put in to finalize the deal.
Loss of words, I'm blessed.I want to thank the Haslams, JW Johnson, Andrew Berry, coach Stefanski and the rest of the browns organization for continuing to to believe in the home grown kid and allowing me to represent this organization and city of Cleveland where I'm from @Browns— Denzel Ward (@denzelward) April 18, 2022
And big shout out and respect to my agent @ToryDandy of CAA sports on the work he put in to finalize my contract.— Denzel Ward (@denzelward) April 18, 2022
Still work to be done Cleveland but I'm here to stay and work towards what we all set out to do when playing this game! #win!
Ward has been selected to two Pro Bowls in his first four seasons -- his rookie year in 2018 and in 2021.
He has 10 interceptions, returning two for touchdowns, and 50 passes defended in 52 games.