The Cleveland Browns on Friday exercised their fifth-year option on the contracts of CB Denzel Ward and QB Baker Mayfield. The Browns EVP of football operations and general manager Andrew Berry confirmed the news on a pre-draft video conference call with reporters. The 2018 first-round picks will be under contract through the 2022 season.
“Both of those players have done a really nice job for us through the first 3 years. We view both of these guys as young players who continue to ascend," Andrew Berry said.
The Cleveland Browns selected Baker Mayfield and Denzel Ward with the 1st and the 4th picks respectively in the 2018 NFL draft. With the selection of Baker Mayfield, the quarterback carousel stopped in Cleveland. Before selecting Baker Mayfield with the first overall selection, the Cleveland Browns had twenty or more starting quarterbacks.
Cleveland Browns went 0-16 to earn the right to draft first overall. Both Baker Mayfield and Denzel Ward have had an impact right from the start. Denzel Ward picked off Big Ben in his first game. Baker Mayfield led the Browns to their first win in over 2 years.
NFL: Baker and Denzel to stay with Cleveland Browns through 2022 season
Baker Mayfield had a breakout 2020 campaign where he threw for 3,563 yards, 26 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. His passer rating of 95.9 was the third-best mark in franchise history. For his career with the Browns, Baker has thrown for 11,115 yards, 75 touchdowns, and 43 interceptions.
Ward, the no 4 pick of the 2018 NFL draft, has started all but one of the 37 games in which he’s appeared. One of the league’s top lockdown cornerbacks, Ward made the Pro-Bowl as a rookie in 2018 and has racked up seven interceptions in his 3 years within the NFL.
The Cleveland Browns, as a team, leaped into the playoffs in 2020. In an NFL season that was unprecedented and hit with Covid-19, the Browns made their first appearance in the playoffs and Baker Mayfield and Denzel ward were in the thick of the playoff run. Baker started both playoff games for the Browns. Exercising their fifth-year option will give the Browns leverage at one of the most important positions in football. They will have a two year window to make their Super Bowl dream a reality.