The Los Angeles Chargers have signed All-Pro defensive back Derwin James to a four-year contract extension, reportedly agreeing to terms on a deal that will make him the highest-paid safety in NFL history.
James entered the league as the 17th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, viewed as an outstanding talent with the ability to play either cornerback or safety. Ultimately, Los Angeles deployed the 6-foot-2 defensive back as a safety and he quickly emerged as one of the NFL top 100 players.
James dominated in his rookie season, recording 13 pass deflections with three interceptions and 3.5 sacks. Thanks to his impact on the field, he was named to the PFWA All-Rookie Team and earned Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro honors in his rookie season.
Just a few years later, following a challenging road that required him to overcome multiple injuries, James is now being rewarded for his bounceback season in 2021 with a new deal that makes him one of the highest paid NFL players.
- Derwin James contract: $9.052 million salary (2022)
As first reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the new extension adds four years to his current contract. It includes a record-setting $19.1 million average annual value, making him the highest paid safety in NFL history. Furthermore, the agreement also provides him with a record $42 million guaranteed.
James will see a significant portion of the money will be in the first year of the extension. It works out for both sides, with the star defensive back paid almost immediately and Los Angeles creating cap room for the future Justin Herbert contract extension.
The 26-year-old graded as a top-10 safety by Pro Football Focus this past season, being credited with a low 71.9 passer rating allowed when targeted in coverage, 31 stops and three sacks. He will remain an integral part of the Chargers’ defense for years to come, serving as a Swiss Army Knife in Brandon Staley’s scheme.
Once the deal is signed, James can immediately end the training camp hold-in that the Chargers allowed as the two sides negotiated the contract. With James on the field for the 2022 NFL season, Los Angeles projects as a playoff contender and one of the best teams in our NFL predictions.