Analysis

Chargers Make Derwin James Highest-Paid Safety

derwin james contract

The Los Angeles Chargers signed safety Derwin James to a four-year, $76.4 million dollar contract extension on Wednesday, making him the highest-paid safety in the NFL and continuing to show they are all in on their current roster core.

 

General manager Tom Telesco rewarding young players has become a trend for the Chargers as they have started to build momentum since drafting Justin Herbert. In just three years, James has proven to be one of the most impactful and versatile defensive players in the league. He already has earned All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors, despite being injury-plagued throughout his short career. 

Hall of Fame coach Bill Cowher believes James is to the Chargers what linebacker Micah Parsons is to the Dallas Cowboys, but on the backend of San Diego’s defense.

“Derwin James to me, when he’s on the field, he’s a playmaker, and he’s a guy,” Cowher said. “You can line up in the box, you can sit there and blitz him. He’s as good a blitzer as there is as any outside linebacker. He can play half the field. He can make plays in coverage. I think he’s just a complete safety all around. But, he’s kind of one of those guys you want him all over the field. He’s smart, a good tackler and a good blitzer. He can cover, and he’s a smart football player. I think he, without a doubt, gives them an element on the defense of a guy that you can move around.”

When you watch the Chargers’ defense, it is impossible to miss James. T.J. McCreight, The 33rd Team’s head of scouting, loves James’ impactful game, especially what he does against teams in the AFC West.

The Chargers play the Chiefs twice a year,” McCreight said. “No player in the NFL can handle Travis Kelce as well as Derwin James. Last year, Derwin went toe to toe with Kelce and shut him down.” McCreight points out how Kelce took over the game last December when Derwin was forced to leave the field after aggravating a hamstring injury.

“When I look at his ability to cover tight ends, his ability to blitz, and his leadership … he is a great player,” McCreight said.

James ranked fourth among safeties in Sports Information Solutions’ total points last season. He also ranked ninth in total points per snap played. His base stats are impressive, but the deeper you look at his overall impact on the defense, it paints an even clearer picture of the player the Chargers are extending.

Andrew Harbaugh contributed to this report. 

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