The Cleveland Browns knew that an elite cornerback is also essential in today’s pass-happy NFL.
With 4,000-yard passers becoming the norm, it’s equally crucial for the defense to limit the opposing team’s chances of making huge gains.
That reason led the Browns to make Denzel Ward the highest-paid cornerback in NFL history.
NFL Network’s James Palmer compared his contract with other top-tier cornerbacks.
Highest Total Value Cornerback Contracts NFL History
Years Total Value
Denzel Ward 5 $100.5M
Jalen Ramsey 5 $100.0M
Marlon Humphrey 5 $97.5M
Marshon Lattimore 5 $97.0M
Darrelle Revis 6 $96.0M
Xavien Howard 5 $90.0M
— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) April 19, 2022
Ward agreed to a five-year, $100.5 million extension, with $71.25 million in guaranteed money.
This contract will commence in the 2023 season because Ward will be playing under a fifth-year option this year.
After two Pro Bowl selections, the former Ohio State standout received the richest contract for a cornerback.
Last season, Ward finished with 34 solo tackles, ten passes defended, three interceptions, and a pick-six.
His deal is $500,000 higher than Jalen Ramsey’s five-year, $100 million deal.
Marlon Humphrey also received a five-year, $97.5 million contract from the Baltimore Ravens.
Meanwhile, Marshon Lattimore has a five-year, $97 million deal with the New Orleans Saints.
Darrelle Revis signed a six-year, $96 million contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2013, while Xavien Howard received a five-year, $90 million extension from the Miami Dolphins.
Ward Will Have His Hands Full In The AFC North
The Browns locked in Ward for the long term because their division rivals are building solid receiving corps.
The Cincinnati Bengals have Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, and 2021 Offensive Rookie of the Year Ja’Marr Chase.
Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Steelers will field Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson, and versatile running back Najee Harris.
The Baltimore Ravens will also have Marquise Brown, Rashod Bateman, and tight end Mark Andrews.
If the Browns compete with these units at least twice a year, they need a solid defender in Ward to line up with fellow cornerback Greg Newsome II and safety John Johnson III.