The Cleveland Browns didn't hesitate on the fifth-year rookie options for Baker Mayfield and Denzel Ward, making sure the top-five picks from the 2018 draft will be with the team until at least the 2022 season. Per Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer, Mayfield will earn $18.858 million and Ward $13.294 million under their fifth-year options -- the first two first-round picks of the 2018 draft class to have their options exercised. The deadline for teams to exercise these options is May 3 (check out former NFL agent Joel Corry's guide to fifth-year options for every 2018 first-round pick here).
"We view both of those guys as young players that are continually ascending and are going to be a big part of what we do as we move forward," Browns general manager Andrew Berry said in a statement. "Both of those players have really done a nice job for us over the first three years."
Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft, has been the franchise quarterback the Browns have been seeking for decades. Last season, the Browns won their first playoff game since 1994 -- ending an 18-year postseason drought -- thanks to a career season by Mayfield.
Mayfield threw for 3,563 yards with 26 touchdowns to just eight interceptions (95.9 rating), as the Browns won 11 games for the first time since 1994. Mayfield joined Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck as the only players in league history to throw for 3,500 passing yards and 20 touchdown passes in each of their first three seasons. His 11,115 career passing yards and 932 completions are the fifth-most for a No. 1 overall pick in his first three seasons, while Mayfield's 89.1 career passer rating also ranks fifth. Mayfield's 75 touchdown passes surpassed Otto Graham for the most by a Browns player in his first three years.
Ward, the No. 4 pick in the 2018 draft, became the first player since 2000 to record 18 passes defensed in as few as 12 games in a single season. He was the only player only player in the NFL last season to have three or more passes defensed in three games. Ward's 40 career passes defensed are tied for eighth in the NFL since 2018, his rookie season.
The Browns have two franchise cornerstones in Mayfield and Ward, two players who are due for long-term extensions over the next year.