Derwin James

Derwin James To Return In Week 13

One of the NFL’s best safeties will be returning for the final stretch of the 2019 campaign. After undergoing surgery during the summer and missing most the season, Chargers defensive back Derwin James is expected to return to game action in Week 13, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

James suffered a stress fracture of the fifth metatarsal of his right foot in August after a screw originally inserted during his freshman year at Florida State bent back. The injury required a surgical operation to remove the screw, and a new screw has since been placed, per Schefter. James is now running without any pain, allowing him to get back on the field after the Chargers complete their Week 12 bye.

The 17th overall pick in the 2018 draft, James entered the NFL with high expectations and quickly surpassed them. The now-23-year-old started all 16 games for Los Angeles during his rookie campaign, posting three interceptions, 13 passes defensed, and 3.5 sacks during that time. Pro Football Focus graded James as the league’s seventh-best safety, while he also garnered a first-team All-Pro nod.

With James and fellow safeties Adrian Phillips and Nasir Adderley on IR, the Chargers have primarily deployed Rayshawn Jenkins and undrafted rookie Roderic Teamer (who is also now injured) in the back end. So far, the results have been lackluster: after finishing 8th in defensive DVOA in 2018, Los Angeles now ranks 26th in the same metric, while the club has fallen from 10th in pass defense DVOA to 23rd.

Sitting at 4-5, the Chargers are on the outside looking in to the AFC playoff race, and FiveThirtyEight.com gives them only a 14% chance of earning a postseason berth. They’ll play the Raiders and Chiefs without James in tow, then face the Broncos, Jaguars, Vikings, Raiders, and Chiefs once James returns.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chargers To Place Derwin James On IR

Derwin James underwent foot surgery on Thursday, and the second-year Chargers safety will soon have a clearer timeline. The Chargers will place the All-Pro talent on IR before Week 1, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter).

The Bolts made the move to place James on IR Sunday. They are planning to replace him on the roster with defensive back Jaylen Watkins, Daniel Popper of The Athletic tweets.

Los Angeles will carry James through to their 53-man roster, making him eligible for one of its two IR-return slots. Were the Chargers to place James on IR before finalizing their 53-man unit, he would be out for the season. With James on IR after roster cutdown day, the Bolts will have to play at least two months without him.

That lines up with James’ timetable. He is expected to need at least three months to recover from the stress fracture in the fifth metatarsal of his right foot, making an IR stay logical. He will not be eligible to return from IR until Week 9, and if this recovery timeline is accurate, it may be further into the season before the Chargers have their back-line chess piece available again.

While the Chargers will obviously miss their do-it-all defender, they re-signed All-Pro special-teamer/hybrid linebacker Adrian Phillips in March and drafted Nasir Adderley in the second round a month later.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chargers’ Derwin James To Miss Time

Chargers safety Derwin James is scheduled to undergo foot surgery on Thursday, a source tells ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). During the procedure, doctors will remove the screw that was inserted in James’ foot during his freshman year at Florida State and was bent last week. The recovery timetable will keep James out for at least the first half of the season, as he’ll need 3-4 months to bounce back. 

It’s a tough break for the Chargers as they’ll be without one of their most important defensive players for a good while. James started all 16 games for the Chargers last season after the team drafted him in the first round out of Florida State. He was a strong candidate for the NFL’s Defensive Rookie Of The Year award last season, notching 105 tackles while adding 3.5 sacks. Big things are still expected of him, but the Bolts will have to wait until November or December to see James make his impact.

James does a little bit of everything for the Chargers, including covering burly tight ends one-on-one and even chipping in at linebacker. In the interim, the Chargers may turn to Jaylen Watkins, Adrian Phillips, Adarius Pickett, or rookie safety Nasir Adderley to try and fill-in for the All-Pro safety.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Derwin James To Undergo Surgery, Miss Extended Time

Chargers safety Derwin James will undergo surgery on his foot and is expected to miss roughly three months of action, according to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network (Twitter link). It’s a stress fracture of the fifth metatarsal in his right foot, as we passed along on Friday. The injury occurred during practice earlier this week.

The team should have a firmer timeline after the surgery, though a mid-November return appears to be the most optimistic scenario. The surgery will be performed by ankle specialist Robert Anderson. Anderson is on the NFL’s Injury and Safety Panel.

James started all 16 games for the Chargers last season after the team drafted him in the first round out of Florida State. He was a strong candidate for the NFL’s Defensive Rookie Of The Year award last season, notching 105 tackles while adding 3.5 sacks.

We’re going to miss him a lot,” Lynn said after the injury. “But we’re a team. We have a good team and we have guys that will step up, and we’ll be fine.

Chargers’ Derwin James Suffers Injury

Chargers safety Derwin James suffered a stress fracture of the fifth metatarsal of his right foot, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The injury occurred during Thursday’s practice and may sideline him for a significant period of time.

James has been spotted in a boot, according to Rapoport, and Dr. David J. Chao (Twitter link) estimates that he will miss a minimum of six weeks. The more likely scenario, he says, is at least a couple of months, making him a candidate to be placed on IR and designated for return later on.

James made a name for himself immediately at Florida State when he tallied 91 total tackles and 4.5 sacks as a true freshman. A knee injury cost him the bulk of his sophomore year, but he returned in his final year at FSU to register 84 tackles, two interceptions, eleven passes defended, and a sack. Coming off of that performance, the Bolts used the No. 17 pick to select the safety.

Last year, the 23-year-old started in all 16 games for the Chargers and notched 105 total tackles and 3.5 sacks. Without James, the Chargers’ secondary will take a hit, though coach Anthony Lynn seems prepared to fill the void internally.

We’re going to miss him a lot,” Lynn told reporters. “But we’re a team. We have a good team and we have guys that will step up, and we’ll be fine.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Bell, Gregory, Raiders, Carr

With just less than four weeks remaining until the trade deadline, Le’Veon Bell-to-the-Eagles has surfaced on the rumor circuit. The Eagles are reportedly giving serious consideration to making a run at the likely rental running back. But SI.com’s Albert Breer isn’t so sure that’s going to happen. The Eagles don’t see running back as a spot to sink major resources into, per Breer. Bell’s approximately $10MM salary would qualify as a major investment, although that’s dropping by the week because of this unusual holdout. Philadelphia has just less than $5MM in cap room, and Breer notes the improving health of its running backs should help them steer clear of these interesting Bell sweepstakes. Corey Clement and Darren Sproles have yet to return to practice, and Jay Ajayi is playing with a back fracture. The Eagles traded a fourth-rounder for Ajayi before the 2017 trade deadline. Bell as of now plans to report to the Steelers during their Week 7 bye.

Here’s the latest from around the league as Week 5’s first game continues:

  • Randy Gregory‘s reinstatement conditions caused him to miss the Cowboys‘ Thursday practice. The defensive end was in Chicago meeting with medical director of the NFL’s substance-abuse program, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports (on Twitter). He most recently attended this type of summit during the preseason. The NFL reinstated Gregory this summer after his extensive substance-abuse-induced hiatus. His status for Week 5 doesn’t appear to be in question. Gregory’s played 64 snaps this season.
  • Jimmy Smith‘s return to action this week doesn’t appear to mean Brandon Carr will be bumped from first-string duties. The 11th-year cornerback has started 164 straight games (and every game he’s played as an NFLer), and Ravens DC Wink Martindale doesn’t plan on stopping that run, Ryan Mink of BaltimoreRavens.com notes. Smith is eligible to return after a four-game suspension. Carr, Marlon Humphrey and slot man Tavon Young have worked as Baltimore’s top three corners this season. Smith was thriving prior to his season-ending injury last year, so it should be expected he’ll play a big role soon, even if he doesn’t start immediately. Carr’s 164-game start streak resides as the longest among defensive players by 28 games.
  • While Jon Gruden wanted to take Derwin James in the first round, Vic Tafur of The Athletic writes (subscription required) the Raiders weren’t doing anything except taking a tackle in Round 1. However, if Kolton Miller was gone at No. 15 — where the Raiders dropped to after dealing the No. 10 selection to the Cardinals — Tafur notes they were going to take James or trade down further.
  • The Dolphins were projected to be among the teams examining the crop of potential first-round quarterbacks, but their 3-1 start could change that. Early in the mock process, Matt Miller of Bleacher Report has the Dolphins taking Clemson cornerback Trayvon Mullen, a player whom multiple area scouts have rising into the first round after a strong start to the season. As for where Miller projects the QBs to fall in Round 1, he has the Giants taking Oregon’s Justin Herbert and No. 5, the Patriots grabbing Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham at No. 17 (though, that draft slot seems certain to drop) and the Bengals selecting Missouri’s Drew Lock at 28.

AFC Notes: Raiders, Fins, Bengals, Chargers

If Jon Gruden had his way, safety Derwin James would be patrolling the Raiders‘ defensive backfield instead of the Chargers’. Gruden today told reporters that he preferred to select James in the first round of this year’s draft, but Oakland had already used high picks on safeties — Karl Joseph and Obi Melifonwu — in recent years, per Eric Williams of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The Raiders ultimately used the 15th overall selection on UCLA offensive tackle Kolton Miller, who is now manning Derek Carr‘s blindside. James has emerged as an early Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate with his play in Los Angeles, but Gruden’s remarks can be interpreted as a subtle dig at Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie, who reportedly hasn’t meshed with Gruden.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • Dolphins safety Reshad Jones will be available for Week 5 after missing the previous two weeks with a shoulder injury, writes Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com. Jones was sidelined for Miami’s games against Oakland (win) and New England (loss), forcing rookie defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick to take over at safety opposite T.J. McDonald. With Jones’ return, Fitzpatrick will move back into his natural slot corner role. Jones, who entered the league as a Dolphins fifth-round pick in 2010, has been a full-time starter since his second season in the NFL. Last spring, he inked a long-term extension that should keep him in South Beach through 2021
  • Rookie Bengals center Billy Price hasn’t suffered any setbacks since suffering a foot injury in Week 2, but he’s still expected to be in a walking boot for at least two more weeks, tweets Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. That means Price will miss games against the Dolphins and Steelers, and possibly more if his recovery timeline is extended. Cincinnati’s bye comes in Week 9, so the Bengals could potentially hold Price out through then if they want to be cautious. With Price out, the Bengals have turned to former starting guard Trey Hopkins to fill in at the pivot.
  • Chargers linebacker Kyzir White underwent a minor knee operation on Monday and will miss Week 5, head coach Anthony Lynn told reporters, including Williams (Twitter link). White isn’t expected to miss much time, however, and should be back “sooner rather than later,” per Lynn. A fourth-round rookie out of West Virginia, White has started three games for Los Angeles this season, racking up 12 tackles in the process. Jatavis Brown should see more snaps in White’s absence.

Chargers Sign Derwin James

The Chargers have wrapped up their entire draft class. On Friday, the Chargers inked first-round safetyDerwin James (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com). 

Per the terms of his slot as the 17th overall pick, James will earn $12.39MM over the course of his four-year deal. The pact includes a $7.1MM signing bonus as well a fifth-year team option, since James was a first-round choice.

James made a name for himself immediately at Florida State when he tallied 91 total tackles and 4.5 sacks as a true freshman. A knee injury cost him the bulk of his sophomore year, but he returned last year and put up 84 tackles, two interceptions, eleven passes defended, and a sack. Early on in the draft process, some anticipated that James would go in the top ten. At No. 17, the Chargers may have gotten a steal.

James projects to start at free safety for the Chargers, joining Jahleel Addae in the middle of the secondary. They’ll be flanked by cornerbacks Jason Verrett and Casey Heyward.

Using PFR’s draft pick signing tracker, here’s the full rundown of the Chargers’ 2018 draft class:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC South Notes: Ryan, Vea, Panthers

The $100MM guaranteed in Matt Ryan‘s landscape-changing Falcons extension appears to be fully guaranteed. Tom Pelissero of NFL.com reports (video link) Ryan will see every dollar of this nine-figure allotment, one that will take the quarterback guarantee market to another level. Kirk Cousins‘ previous record of $84MM — more than $20MM more than Matthew Stafford‘s then-record amount from last summer — lasted less than two months. While it would be a good bet Ryan would see all $100MM even if it weren’t fully guaranteed, given the 11th-year quarterback’s reliability and importance to the Falcons, this sets a high floor for the impending Aaron Rodgers extension. This Ryan deal may have been completed as early as March, per Pelissero, but Ryan’s wife having twins in March prompted the parties to delay the talks.

Here’s the latest from the South divisions:

  • Despite being able to land Vita Vea with the No. 12 overall pick, the Buccaneers placed a top-five grade on the defensive tackle. Jason Licht said during an appearance on Good Morning Football (video link) Vea was slotted at fourth on the Bucs’ board. This made it risky for Tampa Bay to trade the No. 7 pick to Buffalo, with three non-quarterbacks going from Nos. 7-11, but the south Florida franchise landed Vea anyway. Licht said the Bucs ran several pre-draft scenarios centered around the possibility of trading back and still seeing Vea available, but the GM indicated there were a couple of players the team would have been comfortable with at No. 12 if another team chose Vea. One of these could have been Derwin James, a player whom Licht said the Bucs liked “a lot.”
  • A somewhat strange shakeup will occur on the Panthers‘ coaching staff. Curtis Fuller will resign from his post as defensive backs coach, Joe Person and Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer report. The reasoning for this exit is as of now unknown, with GM Marty Hurney telling the Observer “it’s a complicated situation.” Fuller’s been on Carolina’s staff since 2013, serving in various capacities — mostly helping defensive backs. The 39-year-old assistant rose to his most recent role last year after Steve Wilks was promoted to defensive coordinator.
  • Part of an NFL initiative for overseas players being placed on NFC South practice squads, defensive end Alex Jenkins remains with the Saints going into what could be his second year after signing a reserve/futures contract. And the team will again receive a roster exemption, Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com reports (on Twitter). The England native won’t count against the Saints’ 90-man offseason roster and would be an 11th man on the practice squad if he can’t make the team’s 53-man roster out of camp.

Cowboys Still Interested In Earl Thomas

It appears the Cowboys’ refusal to send a second-round pick to the Seahawks for Earl Thomas did not squash their interest in acquiring the three-time All-Pro safety. The Cowboys remain in the Thomas market, per David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, but it’s unclear how badly the franchise wants to execute a deal.

Moore reports the Cowboys are still interested in trading for Thomas. However, despite a rather interesting safety setup that features Jeff Heath and 2017 sixth-rounder Xavier Woods as the penciled-in starters, they aren’t desperate for his services. Moore notes they will be willing to wait out the Seahawks’ situation with Thomas.

John Schneider does not expect his superstar safety to hold out, despite repeated threats at doing so, and the Seattle GM reiterated that’s the sense he’s getting.

My sense is that he wants to be here,” Schenider said Thursday, via ESPN Seattle’s Jessamyn McIntyre (Twitter link). “I haven’t got that sense from his agents at all.”

The Cowboys are searching for safety help, and while it’s a good year to do that — with Eric Reid, Tre Boston and Kenny Vaccaro still oddly unattached nearly two months into the 2018 league year — Thomas brings a much higher pedigree. The soon-to-be 29-year-old defender remains one of the top players at his position, and the Texas native surely wouldn’t be upset if the Cowboys acquired him.

Despite Dallas’ need at safety, the team didn’t inquire about trading up for Derwin James once he fell in Round 1, Moore reports, and selected an offensive lineman in Round 2 and a wideout in Round 3. Executive VP Stephen Jones said the team considered drafting a safety, and Jerry Jones said the team is interested in finding veteran help. Jerry Jones added post-draft that the Cowboys have cornerbacks who can play safety, perhaps indicating Byron Jones‘ shift to cornerback may not be permanent.

Moore writes that Thomas can help facilitate this by holding out and/or refusing to sign a Seahawks extension. One year remains on his deal. But for now, Seattle brass continues to publicly state they expect Thomas to remain their secondary’s centerpiece this season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.