Denzel Ward, a cornerback for the Cleveland Browns, is now struggling with a concussion even though the start of the regular season is only a few days away.
Unfortunately, this is not Ward’s first concussion during his career, as he already has four prior to this one. As a result of the injury, he did not participate in Monday’s practice and it is possible that he will have to miss this coming Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals. But there is more to the problem than that.
The two-time Pro Bowler finds himself in a precarious position at the moment because frequent head injuries have been connected to major health problems for football players both during their careers and after they retire. Although there has been no discussion about Ward retiring from the game, either from the organization or from the cornerback himself, Jacob Roach of USA Today’s Browns Wire argues that there probably should be.
According to what Roach said on Monday, September 4, “Cornerback Denzel Ward has a long injury history, missing time in every season since he joined the Cleveland Browns in 2018,” Denzel Ward has been with the Cleveland Browns since 2018. “There are some things that are more important than sports, and the Browns ought to talk with Ward about the significance of his history of concussions. Already in his NFL career, he has accumulated a total of four concussions, with the most recent one coming in the final game of the preseason against the Kansas City Chiefs. This includes the year 2018, when Ward was out for the whole season after suffering two concussions in the same month.
Even though he will be 26 years old when he begins his sixth season in the NFL in 2023, Ward and his career in the league are still in their infancy. His youth and the fact that he is only halfway through his five-year, $100 million contract that extends through 2027 make the possibility of him retiring less likely.
In addition to the financial benefits, Ward has been exceptionally good at his career ever since he was in college. Coming out of Ohio State in 2018, Cleveland selected him with the fourth overall pick after drafting him. According to Pro Football Reference, Ward has had 65 pass breakups, 13 interceptions, two forced fumbles, and two defensive touchdowns since entering the league. He also has scored two defensive touchdowns.
His performance in 2022 was subpar, and as a result, Pro Football Focus (PFF), which uses advanced statistics to determine player grades, only gave him a 56.8 overall player grade. Nevertheless, the improvements that Cleveland has made across the defense, notably to the defensive line, could lessen some of the strain on the secondary and help Ward recapture his Pro-Bowl form of 2021 — providing that issues from his most recent concussion do not continue to linger.