Browns may have made a mistake extending Denzel Ward
Cleveland Browns fans were split on the extension of cornerback Denzel Ward and so far the returns have not been positive in 2022.
This offseason, the Cleveland Browns extended pro bowl cornerback Denzel Ward signing him to a five-year $100.5 million deal.
So far the first year on this contract has seen Ward play the worst season of his young career. There are plenty of legitimate complaints about the system defensive coordinator Joe Woods runs but it’s the same system Ward excelled in the last two seasons before locking up this contract.
Through the first 13 games, according to pro football reference, Ward has allowed a 68% completion percentage when he’s targeted by opposing quarterbacks. He has allowed 13.3 yards per completion with a passer rating of 94.8, all of these numbers are the worst of his career.
Some pointed to injury history as a reason to worry about re-signing Ward who has missed three games due to injury this season — so while it’s not a huge concern, it’s still a thing.
Still, the main issue is that Ward is in a system that doesn’t play to his strengths. This is a legitimate concern, but regardless of the system, his play has fallen off this season.
Ward’s PFF grades this season in coverage, run defense, tackling, and overall are by far the worst of his career. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t made some great plays including an impressive game against the Steelers in Week 3.
The Browns aren’t likely to move on from Denzel Ward because of his overall career and contract but they should absolutely be concerned. Ward could return to pro bowl form next season and maybe a change in scheme and defensive coordinator will be just what he needs.