The Cleveland Browns made no-brainer moves picking up the fifth-year options on both of their 2018 first-round picks.
NFL Network's Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport reported that the Browns picked up the options on quarterback Baker Mayfield and corner Denzel Ward, per sources informed of the situation. The team later announced the options had been exercised.
With the new collective bargaining agreement, fifth-year options on former first-round picks are now guaranteed upon being officially exercised. In previous seasons, the options were guaranteed for injury only.
The No. 1 overall pick in 2018, Mayfield's fifth-year option is worth $18.86 million in 2022. After making one Pro Bowl, Ward will make $13.294 million on the fifth year. As for what comes next, in terms of possible long-term extensions, Browns general manager Andrew Berry avoided that question in his Friday news conference.
"You probably know me well enough that I'm not gonna really talk on that in this setting," Berry said. "I just don't think it's appropriate. But obviously we know both those players are extension eligible."
It's been an up-and-down start to Mayfield's career. After a stellar rookie campaign, he struggled in 2019. The QB bounced back in a big way under coach Kevin Stefanski, helping lead the Browns to their first playoff appearance since 2002 and knocking off rival Pittsburgh in the postseason.
In three seasons, Mayfield has tossed for 11,115 yards with 75 touchdowns and 43 interceptions. In 2020, he completed 62.8% of his passes for 3,563 yards with 26 TDs and 8 INTs.
Ward proved to be a lock-down corner from the jump, making a Pro Bowl in his rookie campaign. While battling through injuries, Ward has compiled seven INTs, 40 passes defended, two forced fumbles and 143 tackles.