Denzel Ward has agreed to a new contract that can keep him with the Cleveland Browns until 2027.
The team can lock up Gregory Newsome until 2025 if they exercise their fifth-year option.
Joe Woods’ defense will be in good shape on the outside for the foreseeable future with this pair of cornerbacks.
Three cornerbacks recorded six pass breakups, showing the depth in the play.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) November 12, 2021
But what does this mean for Greedy Williams’ future in Cleveland?
Cleveland traded to grab Williams in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
He had his moments but was as disappointed as the rest of the team during this Freddie Kitchens season.
This choice by @Greedy had the hype of the crowd!
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) December 21, 2021
Nerve damage in an injured shoulder cost Williams the entire 2020 season.
But a solid rebound last year has many thinking the Browns have 3 starting-caliber outside corners.
And that may be one too many as Williams heads into free agency after this season.
Especially if Williams and his agent expect to be paid like a quality starter in the NFL.
Make the numbers add up
No one is going to tell Andrew Berry he can’t afford to sign a particular player.
Ward’s $100.5 million extension signaled to the NFL that Cleveland is still open for business.
And if the Browns want to keep Greedy Williams, Berry will find a way.
But the Browns’ current top 6 cornerbacks represent a total of $23 million on their 2022 salary cap.
— Sam Penix (@Sam_Penix) October 11, 2021
And Troy Hill’s deferred salary and Ward’s salary in 2023 alone puts the Browns above that number next season.
Details of Ward’s deal are not known, but eventually the full $100.5 million hit the salary cap.
Along with the increased expected payouts to quarterback and wide receiver, the cap margin is tightening.
And if Williams plays as well in 2022 as he did last season, he could pull out of Cleveland.
The argument for retaining Williams
Andrew Berry has publicly stated that NFL teams can never have enough quality cornerbacks.
His commitment to Ward only reinforces the way he prioritizes the position.
Williams had as many passes defended as Ward last year, with one fewer interceptions.
Cleveland’s defense didn’t suffer in the two games Ward missed with a hamstring and Covid.
#Brunettes Greedy Williams replaced the injured Greg Newsome and shone.
He had 6 tackles, a pass deflection and a huge interception in the 4th quarter. It received a rating of 86.4 PFF. 💪🏾 pic.twitter.com/1W8HXz6ldS
— MoreForYouCleveland (@MoreForYou_CLE) October 4, 2021
And Ward’s and Greg Newsome’s injury histories provide Williams with a legitimate selling point.
Williams took a few shots in the slot last year, and Troy Hill is pushing further into his thirties.
Maybe Greedy Williams offers quality service in the slot and quality backup outside.
But he might still need to take a discount to re-sign with Cleveland beyond 2022.
What can Berry do?
Andrew Berry’s salary cap genius is undisputed and if he feels the team needs Williams, he will make it happen.
But he has options even if Williams proves invaluable to the 2022 Browns.
We could see a hint at Berry’s future plans as early as next week in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Cleveland isn’t in the best position to draft another stud corner, especially with more pressing needs.
Browns rookie Greedy Williams says Cleveland already feels like home thanks to the “great people” here. Greedy and the other Browns rookies are at camp in Berea Friday and Saturday. pic.twitter.com/eIrGSq5Dng
— clevelanddotcom (@clevelanddotcom) May 3, 2019
But Berry’s previous 15 draft picks remain on the roster, so a cornerback in any round means something.
Williams is also a valuable trade chip, especially if the Browns expect AJ Green to continue his trajectory.
Berry might find it easier to get a first-round pick for a starting corner than a starting quarterback.
Williams’ trade value is as high as it will ever be, and that could push Cleveland to move him sooner rather than later.