The Los Angeles Chargers and star safety Derwin James have agreed on a four-year, $76.5 million extension with $42 million guaranteed, per NFL Media's Ian Rapoport. The $19.1 million per year average makes James the highest-paid safety in NFL history, surpassing Pittsburgh Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, who recently topped the market with his four-year, $73 million extension. James was taken six picks after Fitzpatrick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
James’ $42 million in total guarantees represent a $4 million raise over Seattle Seahawks safety Jamal Adams’ $38 million on his deal signed last offseason. He also receives $29 million in new cash through 2023, a nearly $4 million increase over Fitzpatrick's extension.
Chargers head coach Brandon Staley recently had this to say to The Athletic's Daniel Popper about the dynamic defensive playmaker: “I don’t look at Derwin as a safety. I look at Derwin as an impact player. I think if you were just looking at him as a safety, that wouldn’t be doing Derwin justice.”
Staley went on to say that James is the “signal-caller and the heartbeat of our defense.”
This is music to any agent’s ears, and it's certainly reflected in James’ new record-setting contract. James' PFF grades back it up, too.
Since 2018, James ranks near the top in every facet among safeties:
- Overall grade: 90.1 (5th)
- Coverage grade: 91.5 (9th)
- Run-defense grade: 82.5 (16th)
- Pass-rush grade: 90.2 (6th)
The Florida State product can do everything at an extremely high level, whether it be playing man coverage and hanging with the league’s best weapons when called upon or serving as a ballhawk in zone. Now entering the 2022 campaign after a fully healthy offseason and with extension negotiations concluded, the sky is the limit for James and this new-look Chargers defense.
The Chargers are currently listed at +250 odds to win the AFC West at BetMGM Sportsbook, with +1450 odds to win the Super Bowl.