49ers Urged to Extend $40 Million Pro Bowler Before 2024 Season

The San Francisco 49ers have plenty on their plate financially, but they are still being urged to lock down their No. 1 corner. Charvarius Ward is playing on an expensive contract already, but is set to be a free agent after the 2025 season.

That’s why ESPN writer Aaron Schatz is encouraging the 49ers to go ahead and extend Ward.

“Yes, there’s a lot of talk about what the 49ers will do with their wide receiver contracts, but there are other players who become free agents in 2025 and need to be extended… Ward has played well since coming over as a free agent from Kansas City,” Schatz wrote on June 20. “He ranked 26th out of 93 qualifying corners in coverage DVOA last season with a league-leading 23 passes defensed. His contract has three void years after 2024, but he’ll be just 29 years old in 2025, so it’s a good time for the 49ers to get him wrapped up for a few more seasons.”

Ward is coming off the best season of his 49ers stint and his NFL career as a whole. And while San Francisco would likely love to extend him, it’s easier said than done.

Ward Stars in San Francisco

After starting his career with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2018 after going undrafted that year, Ward slowly carved out a major role. By his second season, he was starting every game and had proven himself.

But while he had some solid seasons with the Chiefs, he has elevated his game with the 49ers. Ward’s first season in San Francisco saw him swat 11 passes, adding an interception for good measure.

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But as Pro Football Reference shows, his 2023 season was something else entirely. Ward pulled down 5 interceptions and earned a league-leading 23 passes defended. He also scored a touchdown.

With San Francisco, Ward has become the lockdown corner that every Super Bowl contender needs. While the 49ers have significant talent all over the defense, Ward’s contributions to the team’s success can’t be understated.

What Ward Could Cost 49ers

The issue the 49ers have with extending Ward is the same one they have with Brandon Aiyuk: cap space. Spotrac estimates that the 49ers are already $4 million over the salary cap limit for this year.

With stars like DE Nick Bosa and WR Deebo Samuel on huge contracts for the forseeable future, the lack of funds likely won’t change. And considering Ward is 28, he is expecting a massive contract as his next deal.

Ward could play well into his 30s, but this is his last guaranteed chance for a big-money deal. If San Francisco can’t afford to pay him as much as he wants or can get, it’s only reasonable for him to sign elsewhere next offseason.

Over the Cap estimates that Ward’s value for the 2023 season was around $13.5 million. His 2024 pay is actually set to count $18.4 million towards the cap, so that provides a range for Ward’s next deal.

At the very least, he is going to make close to what he will be paid in 2024. More than likely, he could command a yearly salary average over that $18.4 million.

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