2. Denzel Ward, CB
Denzel Ward was the fourth overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft and was an instant favorite. Cleveland has often shied away from Ohio State players, for some reason, so seeing them take a Buckeye in the top five fired up the Dawg Pound.
Ward didn't wait long to prove he was worth the selection either as he had two interceptions in his NFL debut. That's always a special feeling for a player but it's better when accomplished against a divisional rival such as the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ward was even covering their top receiver, Antonio Brown — and this was before he froze his feet, so he was still elite.
During his fifth season in the league, the Browns rewarded No. 21 for his hard work as they signed him to a five-year extension worth $100.5 million. At the time, this made Ward the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL.
This past season, Ward had arguably the best campaign of his career. He finished with 34 tackles and two picks which weren't earth-shattering numbers, but his play extended far beyond the stat sheet. Ward was lock-down in man coverage all year long, often taking his side of the field away from the opposing team. He made his third trip to the Pro Bowl and even had a one-handed interception during the game.
OverTheCap.com estimates that Cleveland can restructure Ward's deal and save more than $10.6 million. That's a huge chunk of change and it would make a lot of sense to work with him. Unlike Bitonio or Cooper, Ward is still in his mid-20s, meaning they can kick the can down the road while still having him under contract for years to come.
Estimated savings: $10.649 million