2. Denzel Ward getting a premium contract
When the Browns selected Denzel Ward at No. 4 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, the fan base was thrilled. Cleveland doesn't typically add many Ohio State players, so to see them use a top-five pick on a Buckeye was refreshing.
On top of that, he played a position of great need — and was one of the fastest cornerbacks as well, posting a 4.32 in the 40-yard dash.
In his debut game, he didn't disappoint. Ward covered Antonio Brown (before he fell off the deep end) and had two interceptions. Cleveland wound up tying the game which felt like a letdown, but at least it wasn't another opening-season loss.
Ward continued to play well but there were some concerns about his durability. He missed three games in 2018, four in each of the next two seasons, and two more in 2021.
A team that has had so many issues with health didn't let this bother them as they handed out a five-year contract extension worth $100.5 million and $71.25 million guaranteed. Ward rewarded them with arguably his worst season as a pro.
He saw his PFF grade drop from 76.9 all the way down to 56.8 — landing him 88th overall at the position. He also missed three more games, making it 16 games (practically a full season) he's sat out.
In 2022, Ward was outplayed by rookie third-round pick Martin Emerson. We can blame the defensive coordinator all we want but Ward is making far too much money to give up some of the plays he did. And others such as Myles Garrett still found a way to perform at a high level, which is expected when you make north of $20 million regardless of who the coach is.
If Ward doesn't bounce back this year, they could wind up truly regretting this deal.