The cost of success is…well, spending money. In the NFL, the better you do, the more you’re going to have to spend the keep the players around who got you to that place. And for a team like the Cleveland Browns, which has seen so much failure for so long, it’s all the more imperative that they start keeping the talent in their building.
The 2018 NFL Draft class is shaping up to be the best that they’ve had in many years, though that’s not hard to do when you consider the fact that they have had so many failed first-round picks over the past decade-plus.
That included two picks in the top four selections. After drafting quarterback Baker Mayfield with the first overall pick, they selected cornerback Denzel Ward at number four. The team has been coy this offseason about possible contract extension talks with Mayfield, but Ward recently confirmed that his party is in talks.
Marla Ridenour wrote for the Akron Beacon Journal that Ward said as much back during minicamp, which is significant, given that he is under contract through 2023 and is not a quarterback, though they did extend Myles Garrett in the same position last year. “In a perfect world, I would definitely want to be a Brown for my entire career”, he said.
“I’m from Cleveland, the team that drafted me, the team that believed in me coming out of college. I take a lot of pride and respect into that and just want to give my all to this team”, Ward added. “It’s definitely a place I want to be. I enjoy being a Cleveland Brown and giving them everything I’ve got”.
The three-year veteran has made one Pro Bowl, recording seven career interceptions with 18 passes defensed. He had 18 of them last year, with two interceptions. He also has two forced fumbles, three recoveries, and one defensive touchdown.
Ward has been the most stable piece in a secondary that has seen plenty of turnover in recent years, but the Browns believe that they have stockpiled talent this year. They are getting Greedy Williams and Grant Delpit back from injury, and they signed John Johnson III and Troy Hill in free agency, while using a first-round pick on Greg Newsome II.
And yet he is the most experienced player in the system, in spite of the fact that he is only going into his fourth season. Hill and Johnson can help add a veteran presence to the room, but they are also learning a new system, where Ward has the advantage.