Browns stock report: Deshaun Watson rises while Denzel Ward falls

Browns, Jedrick Wills. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports
Browns, Jedrick Wills. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports /
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Browns, Denzel Ward
Browns, Denzel Ward. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images) /

Browns Stock down 2: Denzel Ward

First the good news: Denzel Ward came up with an interception against the Steelers, bringing a smile to the face of defensive coordinator Joe Woods. However, as one of the highest-paid corners in the NFL, we expect true shutdown performance from Ward, not just hot and cold play.

On other plays, Ward seemed to be over-eager to make interceptions, gambling on the receiver’s route and jumping in front of his man, hoping to be in a position to make an interception. Sadly, all too often, his man would change direction and get behind Ward and be wide open. So yes, he made a nice interception, but he also left his man wide open on other occasions.

Ward appears to be addicted to taking unnecessary chances when he should be able to use his superior speed and reaction time to shut down his opponent. Ward has the talent, but he’s getting tricked.

The scary part is that Ward is signed to one of the largest deals for a cornerback in NFL history: $100.5 million for five years. $71.25 million is guaranteed — a contract that runs through 2027, though the Browns could terminate early after the 2025 season if they want to.

If the 2023 version of Ward is what we are going to get in the future, the Browns will probably consider early termination, judging by the less-than-Pro-Bowl performances they have been treated to.