During the first few days of the NFL free agent signing period, it became evident that Denver Broncos safety T.J. Ward’s newly-minted $22.5 million contract was extremely favorable.
Ward’s 60-percent ratio of guaranteed money relative to the total value of his deal exceeds that of any player signed during the first day of free agency.
His guaranteed money of $14 million is higher than all safety free agent contracts with the exception of New Orleans Saints safety Jairus Byrd.
In terms of a comparison, Ward got a similar deal to one of the top-rated free agents, Alterraun Verner (Tampa Bay Bucccaneers), in total value and guaranteed money. Verner plays cornerback, one of the most lucrative positions in the NFL.
Plus, Ward’s guaranteed money, which includes a $5 million signing bonus, is included in the first two years of a front-loaded contract with lower salary-cap numbers and base salaries in years 3 and 4 of the deal.
The front-loaded numbers protect Ward from being a cap casualty later in his deal while more importantly allowing him to renegotiate after a few years if he continues to play at a high level outperforming the base salaries included later in his contract.
A former Cleveland Browns second-round draft pick from Oregon, Ward was a Pro Bowl and All-Pro selection last season.
He recorded 112 tackles, 1.5 sacks and two interceptions last season and has 342 career tackles, five interceptions, 3.5 sacks and five forced fumbles.
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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun.