Chargers sign star cornerback Casey Hayward to 3-year, $36M extension

For the first four seasons of his career, Casey Hayward was mostly a sub-package cornerback for the Green Bay Packers. He played well during that time, allowing only 58 percent of passes in his direction to be completed and holding opposing quarterbacks to a well below-average 70.2 passer rating on those plays, per Pro Football Focus. 

Still, the Packers did not prioritize keeping him in free agency. Instead, they allowed the Chargers to sign Hayward to a three-year, $15.3 million contract that included just $6.8 million in guaranteed money. 

Since then, Hayward has become one of the very best cornerbacks in the NFL. He's made the Pro Bowl during both of his seasons with the Chargers, holding opponents to a 51 percent completion rate and 55.7 passer rating while intercepting 11 passes and recording an additional 24 passes defensed. 

As a reward, the Chargers are handing him a three-year extension that makes him one of the highest-paid cornerbacks in football in terms of average annual salary. 

Only 10 corners in the league have higher average salaries than the $12 million Hayward will draw under this extension. Hayward is an important part of an improving L.A. defense; locking him in ahead of free agency allows the Chargers to pursue upgrades elsewhere, with safety and linebacker expected to be priorities. The Chargers rank in the middle of the pack in available cap space this offseason, so we should expect them to be selective in pursuing low-cost veterans on reasonable deals. 

CBS Sports Writer

Jared Dubin is a New York lawyer and writer. He joined CBSSports.com in 2014 and has since spent far too much of his time watching film and working in spreadsheets. Full Bio

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