COSTA MESA, Calif. — The Los Angeles Chargers and All-Pro safety Derwin James have agreed to a four-year, $76.4 million contract extension, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
The deal has an average annual value of $19.13 million and resets the safety market, making James the highest-paid safety in NFL history, a source told Schefter.
The Chargers announced Wednesday that James had signed a multi-year contract extension, but did not disclose any terms.
James agreed to the deal a day after Chargers coach Brandon Staley described the star safety as an “impact player” and “the heartbeat of our defense.”
“When I see him I think, ‘This is a defender’ because he can play anywhere,” Staley said Tuesday. “He can play any safety spot, he can play a corner. … He can bring down the quarterback and impress as a blitzer, he can impress in man-to-man coverage, and then he can impress in zone defense, whether he’s playing low or high — and he’s our signal caller and the heartbeat of our defense.
James reported to training camp on July 26 but has remained a hold-in for the past three weeks, missing 14 training sessions as contract negotiations resumed. However, he did participate in team walks and individual agility drills while maintaining a constant presence among teammates on the sidelines.
Staley expressed confidence that James would be physically ready to take part in football activities if an agreement were reached, saying: “There is no one more proud of his achievement and his ability to be in mental and physical shape to take part in the getting work done at the highest level than him.”
James, 26, is a key playmaker in a defense that has raised expectations this season following a significant upgrade in personnel.
The Chargers acquired fullback Khalil Mack in a trade with the Chicago Bears to form a pass-rushing duo with Pro Bowl edge Joey Bosa, and signed Pro Bowl cornerback JC Jackson to a five-year, $82.5 million contract in Free Agency and also added defensive linemen Sebastian Joseph-Day, Austin Johnson and Morgan Fox.
By extending James, the Chargers ensure they have several of the NFL’s best defensive playmakers under contract for the foreseeable future, including Mack, Bosa and Jackson.
The 17th pick overall in the 2018 draft, James entered the fifth and final season of his rookie contract and was expected to earn just over $9 million. He has 257 tackles, 5.5 sacks, five interceptions and three forced fumbles in his career.
James was recognized as a rookie by All-Pro and Pro Bowl before playing just five games in 2019 due to a foot injury. He also missed the entire 2020 season due to a knee injury.
In 15 games last season, James had 117 tackles (ranked 3rd among all defensemen in the NFL), two pass interceptions, three fumbles and two sacks.
After appearing in his second Pro Bowl in February, James underwent labrum surgery in his left shoulder. A week before reporting to training camp, James told ESPN that he felt healthy.
https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/34412172/los-angeles-chargers-star-derwin-james-agrees-764m-deal-becomes-nfl-highest-paid-safety-source-says Los Angeles Chargers star Derwin James agrees to $76.4M deal, becomes NFL’s highest-paid safety, source says