The Los Angeles Chargers have a stacked team on both sides of the football, and they are becoming a trendy pick to finish first in the AFC West and to even reach the Super Bowl.
One of their stars on defense is Derwin James, who has become one of the best safeties in football in a short amount of time.
He was second in Defensive Rookie of the Year balloting in 2018, and he made both the Pro Bowl and All-Pro First-Team that season.
On Wednesday, he agreed to a massive four-year contract extension that will keep him with the Bolts for the foreseeable future.
Chargers, safety Derwin James agree to 4-year extension worth an average of $19.1M per year, including $42M guaranteed, making him highest paid safety in NFL. (via @RapSheet) pic.twitter.com/4kXz2scClT
— NFL (@NFL) August 17, 2022
With key members of their core under contract for at least two more seasons (including this one), the Chargers can now focus chiefly on what happens on the field, rather than the business side of the NFL.
James Is Key For The Chargers
Much of the hype and expectations surrounding the Chargers right now have to do with their defense, which looks to be, at least on paper, one of the best in the league.
They focused much of their attention this offseason on upgrading their front seven, as they acquired pass rusher Khalil Mack, as well as defensive tackles Austin Jackson and Sebastian Joseph-Day in order to fix their weak rush defense.
J.C. Jackson, a Pro Bowl cornerback in 2021, also made his way to the Bolts.
But James has been the cornerstone of their secondary.
A stress fracture prematurely ended his 2019 campaign, and he missed all of the 2020 season with a torn meniscus.
Not coincidentally, Los Angeles finished under .500 in both of those seasons.
But James played very well last year, recording 118 tackles (75 solo), seven tackles for loss and quarterback hits, five passes defended, and two interceptions.
It earned him another Pro Bowl nod, as well as some consideration for the Comeback Player of the Year award.
— NFL (@NFL) August 17, 2022
With many more reinforcements around him, James, who just turned 26 this month, could get even better now that there will be less pressure on him to stymie the passing game of opposing teams.
Next Up For Contract Extensions
Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert is one of the game’s best young superstars, and he is under contract for this season and the one after.
The team also can exercise a fifth-year option on him for the 2024 campaign.
But not too long from now, it will need to sign him to a long-term extension, and doing so will be expensive, given how much money men such as Aaron Rodgers and Kyler Murray have gotten paid this year.
Austin Ekeler, L.A.’s versatile dual-threat running back, will become an unrestricted free agent after the 2023 season, and if he were to leave, it would be a big blow to the team.
For now, the Chargers are good when it comes to their key players being under contract, but they will soon have to return to the negotiating table in order to keep them around.