Ward will play in a backfield that will be without Champ Bailey, who was released last week, and could move on without Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who entered free agency without a new deal from the Broncos.
Ward had 129 tackles and two interceptions for Cleveland last year. The Broncos are looking for some stability at a position that got juggled last year, with the loss of Rahim Moore and the inconsistent play of Duke Ihenacho. Veteran Mike Adams, also formerly of Cleveland, started the season as a reserve but ended up in the starting lineup.
"He's a young, explosive strong safety who is going to bring a lot of energy and toughness to our secondary," Broncos boss John Elway said of Ward.
But the Broncos aren't expected to make the sort of free-agent plays that marked their last two seasons, when they signed Wes Welker and Peyton Manning.
Denver's big receiving news Tuesday was a two-year extension for fourth receiver Andre Caldwell, who could move up a notch if the Broncos part ways with Eric Decker.
Caldwell came on late in the season when Welker was sidelined with a concussion. The 28-year-old Caldwell had 11 of his 16 receptions over the final three games of the season.
His most productive game in 2013 was against San Diego on Dec. 12, when he had six receptions for 59 yards and two TDs.
Caldwell was held without a catch in the 43-8 loss to Seattle in the Super Bowl.
"Hopefully I can compete for an extended role this year and contribute a lot more to the team," Caldwell said.
Caldwell received an invitation from Manning to attend offseason workouts at Duke University. Last spring, only Welker, Demaryius Thomas and Decker were invited to work on their chemistry with the five-time NFL MVP quarterback.
"It's just a process of building confidence with those guys all the way from April," Caldwell said.
Ward is expected to be a main piece around which the Broncos reshape a defense that was obliterated by an injury epidemic last season, losing Von Miller, Chris Harris Jr., Derek Wolfe, Kevin Vickerson and Moore.
The Broncos also could seek a replacement for linebacker Wesley Woodyard, a free agent who is exploring other options.
They'll need a new starting guard now that Zane Beadles has agreed to terms with Jacksonville.
Running back Knowshon Moreno is a free agent as well after rushing for 1,038 yards and 10 TDs in 2013.
The Broncos also hired two new coaches on Tuesday, bringing in assistant offensive line coach James Cregg and offensive quality control coach Bo Hardegree.