On Wednesday’s mailbag edition of the Arrowhead Pride Laboratory podcast, we were asked if the Kansas City Chiefs should extend cornerback Charvarius Ward to a multi-year contract.
Ward will be a restricted free agent next year. The Chiefs have the option to extend a first, second or original-round tender to Ward, so that any team interested in signing him away from Kansas City would have to surrender a draft pick. Should they choose to do so, the most realistic option would be for the Chiefs to extend Ward a second-round tender, giving him a one-year contract worth $3.4 million — and any team that wanted to sign him would have to give up a second-round pick.
But should the Chiefs just bypass all of this — and simply sign him to an extension?
It’s been another up and down year for Ward, featuring some poor performances — and a few quality games, too. As the sample size has grown, his lack of growth has been evident. At the end of 2018, he was a great story — and early in 2019, he showed promise before teams picked on him in the playoffs; he had a less than stellar showing through January and February.
At this point, I think we have a good idea who Ward is — and what his ceiling is. On most teams, he would profile more as third cornerback — or a low-end second. The Chiefs have done a fantastic job protecting him within their scheme, which has made their lack of significant investment in the position manageable.
There’s value in having players who have significant snaps within the scheme — and know what is expected of them. This offseason, the Chiefs could lose Bashaud Breeland — their other starting cornerback — to free agency. If this happens, that will help make Ward’s case for a deal.
Brett Veach has done an outstanding job adding young depth to the cornerback position. He has Ward under control for at least one more season. Rashad Fenton is signed to the team through 2022. Rookies L’Jarius Sneed and BoPete Keyes are with the team through 2023. And then there’s former 2019 first-round pick DeAndre Baker, whom the Chiefs could also keep under control through 2022.
At this time, I don’t see the value in making a major investment in Ward. Year-over-year, there just hasn’t been any noticeable growth in his play — and there are young (and more talented) players who could replace him with similar (or better) results.
That being said, I wouldn’t mind if the Chiefs offered Ward a small contract extension at a low-level rate. If the Chiefs offered him a three-year deal valued around $5.5 million a year, I think that would be reasonable for both sides; at this point in his career, it would be representative of his value.
The Chiefs know what Ward is — and what value he has. At some level, getting a known player for their secondary is still a positive. The Chiefs would retain a player with whom they are familiar (and who has experience in the scheme) to pair with other young players — and Ward gets a second contract. His expectations aren’t high, but he gets life-changing money for his family — and the Chiefs get a low-level starter (or quality depth) at his position.
But would Ward would take a contract like that? Does he want to bet on himself — and try for a bigger payday on the open market? Or would he accept the stability the Chiefs can provide him? If he plays well on a new deal, he could still hit the market for a heftier contract.
It will be fascinating to see how this unfolds in 2021 — not just with him, but with the cornerback position in general.
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