Derwin James

Derwin James Receives Full Clearance

Injuries have sidetracked Derwin James‘ career, preventing the former first-round pick from building on his rookie-year All-Pro performance. The standout Chargers safety has played in five games since receiving that acclaim.

The Chargers still picked up James’ fifth-year option, however, and the fourth-year veteran is set to return to work. Brandon Staley said James has received full clearance to participate in workouts, via NFL.com’s Omar Ruiz (on Twitter). James suffered a torn meniscus during Bolts training camp last year, sidelining him for the entire 2020 season.

[RELATED: Chargers Exercise Derwin James’ Fifth-Year Option]

In 2019, a foot injury sidelined James for 11 games. The Florida State alum played 16 games as a rookie, delivering one of the best seasons by a first-year defender in NFL history. That helped the Chargers to a 12-4 record. The team has gone through some changes since, the Staley hire chief among them.

The Bolts entered last summer with four first- or second-team All-Pros in their secondary, but the group did not spend too much time playing together. Los Angeles lost Chris Harris for a chunk of last season, and Desmond King was traded ahead of the October deadline. Casey Hayward is now out of the picture as well. The Chargers, however, are on the verge of having the centerpiece of their secondary back at work. That should aid Staley’s effort to recharge the Bolts’ defense considerably.

James recorded 105 tackles, 3.5 sacks, three interceptions and tallied 13 passes defensed in 2018. The Chargers have been waiting for him to return to form for a while now. While the wait continues, James is back in position to contribute on the field.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chargers Exercise Derwin James’ Fifth-Year Option

The Chargers have exercised safety Derwin James‘ fifth-year option, as James Palmer of the NFL Network reports (via Twitter). That decision will guarantee James a $9.052MM salary in 2022.

James’ talent should have made this an easy call. The Florida State product was tremendous in his rookie season in 2018, racking up three interceptions, 13 passes defensed, and 3.5 sacks. That year culminated in a trip to the divisional round of the playoffs for Los Angeles and First Team All-Pro honors for James.

But James’ subsequent injury problems might have given the Chargers pause. A stress fracture in his right foot limited James to just five games in 2019, and he suffered a knee injury in practice shortly before the start of the 2020 campaign, which wiped out his entire season. It was reported that the ensuing meniscus surgery would require six to eight months of recovery time, and while we have not heard anything definitive, that timeline and the fact that the team picked up James’ fully-guaranteed option suggest that he is expected to be ready to go come Week 1.

If Los Angeles’ roster can stay relatively healthy in 2021, the club should have a real chance at a postseason berth. The Chargers filled a major need at left tackle in the first round of last night’s draft by picking up Northwestern LT Rashawn Slater, which makes the offense a formidable unit on paper. Meanwhile, a full season from James would be a major boost to the defensive side of the ball.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2022 NFL Fifth-Year Option Tracker

NFL teams have until May 3 to officially pick up their options on 2018 first-rounders who are entering the final year of their rookie deals. In a change from years past, fifth-year option seasons are fully guaranteed, rather than guaranteed for injury only. Meanwhile, salaries are now determined by a blend of the player’s position, initial draft placement, and specific performance metrics:

  • 2-time Pro Bowlers (excluding alternate Pro Bowlers) will earn the same as their position’s franchise tag.
  • 1-time Pro Bowlers will earn the equivalent of the transition tag.
  • Players who achieve any of the following will get the average of the 3rd-20th highest salaries at their position:
    • 75%+ snaps in two of their first three seasons
    • 75%+ average across all three seasons
    • 50%+ in each of first three seasons
  • Players who do not hit any of those benchmarks will get the average of the 3rd-25th top salaries at their position.

With the deadline looming, we’ll use the space below to track all the option decisions from around the league:

Updated 4-30-21, 4:24pm CT

  1. QB Baker Mayfield, Browns: Exercised ($18.858MM)
  2. RB Saquon Barkley, Giants: Exercised ($7.217MM)
  3. QB Sam Darnold, Panthers (via Jets): Pending ($18.858MM)
  4. CB Denzel Ward, Browns — Exercised ($13.294MM)
  5. LB Bradley Chubb, Broncos — Pending ($12.716MM)
  6. G Quenton Nelson, Colts — Pending ($13.754MM)
  7. QB Josh Allen, Bills: Pending ($23.106MM)
  8. LB Roquan Smith, Bears: Exercised ($9.735MM)
  9. OT Mike McGlinchey, 49ers: Exercised ($10.88MM)
  10. QB Josh Rosen, Cardinals: N/A
  11. S Minkah Fitzpatrick, Steelers (via Dolphins): Exercised ($10.612MM)
  12. DT Vita Vea, Buccaneers: Exercised ($7.638MM)
  13. DT Daron Payne, Washington — Exercised ($8.529MM)
  14. DE Marcus Davenport, Saints: Exercised ($9.553MM)
  15. OT Kolton Miller, Raiders — N/A (extension)
  16. LB Tremaine Edmunds, Bills: Pending ($12.716MM)
  17. S Derwin James, Chargers: Exercised ($9.052MM)
  18. CB Jaire Alexander, Packers: Exercised ($13.294MM)
  19. LB Leighton Vander Esch, Cowboys: Pending ($9.145MM)
  20. C Frank Ragnow, Lions: Exercised ($12.657MM)
  21. C Billy Price, Bengals: Declined ($10.413MM)
  22. LB Rashaan Evans, Titans: Pending ($9.735MM)
  23. OT Isaiah Wynn, Patriots: Pending ($10.413 MM)
  24. WR D.J. Moore, Panthers: Exercised ($11.116MM)
  25. TE Hayden Hurst, Falcons (via Ravens): Pending ($5.428MM)
  26. WR Calvin Ridley, Falcons: Pending ($11.116MM)
  27. RB Rashaad Penny, Seahawks: Pending ($4.523MM)
  28. S Terrell Edmunds, Steelers: Pending ($6.753MM)
  29. DT Taven Bryan, Jaguars: Pending ($7.638MM)
  30. CB Mike Hughes, Vikings: Pending ($12.643MM)
  31. RB Sony Michel, Patriots: Pending ($4.523MM)
  32. QB Lamar Jackson, Ravens: Exercised ($23.106MM)

NFL’s Fifth-Year Option Salaries For 2021

The NFL’s 2021 salary cap has been set at $182.5MM, marking the league’s first reduction in a decade. With that, the league has also ironed out the value of this year’s fifth-round option for 2018 first-round picks.

Here’s the full rundown, via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter):

1. Baker Mayfield, Browns, QB — $18.858MM (playing time)

2. Saquon Barkley, Giants, RB — $7.217MM (1x Pro Bowl)

3. Sam Darnold, Jets, QB — $18.858MM (playing time)

4. Denzel Ward, Browns, CB — $13.294MM (1x Pro Bowl)

5. Bradley Chubb, Broncos, LB — $12.716MM (1x Pro Bowl)

6. Quenton Nelson, Colts, G — $13.754MM (2x Pro Bowl)

7. Josh Allen, Bills, QB — $23.106MM (1x Pro Bowl)

8. Roquan Smith, Bears, LB — $9.735MM (playing time)

9. Mike McGlinchey, 49ers, OT — $10.88MM (playing time)

10. Josh Rosen, Cardinals, QB*

11. Minkah Fitzpatrick, Steelers, S (drafted by Dolphins) — $10.612MM (2x Pro Bowl)

12. Vita Vea, Buccaneers, DT — $7.638MM

13. Daron Payne, Washington, DT — $8.529MM (playing time)

14. Marcus Davenport, Saints, DE — $9.553MM

15. Kolton Miller, Raiders, OT — $10.88MM (playing time)

16. Tremaine Edmunds, Bills, LB — $12.716MM (1x Pro Bowl)

17. Derwin James, Chargers, S — $9.052MM (1x Pro Bowl)

18. Jaire Alexander, Packers, CB — $13.294MM (1x Pro Bowl)

19. Leighton Vander Esch, Cowboys, LB — $9.145MM

20. Frank Ragnow, Lions, C — $12.657MM (1x Pro Bowl)

21. Billy Price, Bengals, C — $10.413MM

22. Rashaan Evans, Titans, LB — $9.735MM (playing time)

23. Isaiah Wynn, Patriots, OT — $10.413MM

24. D.J. Moore, Panthers, WR — $11.116MM (playing time)

25. Hayden Hurst, Falcons, TE (Drafted by Ravens) — $5.428MM

26. Calvin Ridley, Falcons, WR — $11.116MM (playing time)

27. Rashaad Penny, Seahawks, RB — $4.523MM

28., Steelers, S Terrell Edmunds — $6.753MM (playing time)

29. Taven Bryan, Jaguars, DT — $7.638MM

30. Mike Hughes, Vikings, CB — $12.643MM

31. Sony Michel, Patriots, RB — $4.523MM

32. Lamar Jackson, Ravens, QB — $23.106MM (1x Pro Bowl)

* Rosen was released from his original contract and, therefore, is not option-eligible 

As a refresher, the fifth-year option year is now fully guaranteed. In the past, it was guaranteed for injury only. The values are also dependent on certain performance metrics:

  • Two-time Pro Bowlers (excluding alternate Pro Bowlers) will earn the same as their position’s franchise tag.
  • One-time Pro Bowlers will earn the equivalent of the transition tag.
  • Players who achieve any of the following will get the average of the 3rd-20th highest salaries at their position:
    • 75%+ snaps in two of their first three seasons
    • 75%+ average across all three seasons
    • 50%+ in each of first three seasons
  • Players who do not hit any of those benchmarks will get the average of the 3rd-25th top salaries at their position.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/15/20

Here are Tuesday’s minor moves:

Baltimore Ravens

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Chargers

  • Placed on reserve/COVID-19 list: S Derwin James; James remains on IR

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

  • Waived: CB Brandon Williams

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

Tennessee Titans

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Chargers’ Mike Pouncey To Miss Time?

Chargers center Mike Pouncey missed practice this week with a hip injury, and he’s likely to also miss the season opener against the Bengals, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The severity of the injury isn’t immediately clear, but history suggests that this could be another long recovery for the four-time Pro Bowler. 

[RELATED: Chargers, Keenan Allen Agree On Extension]

Pouncey’s hip limited him to just five games in 2016 and clearly hindered him in 2017, his final year with the Dolphins. In 2018, his first year with the Chargers, he was back to his usual self. Starting in all 16 games, Pouncey was named to his first career Pro Bowl. Then, last year, a neck injury shut him down after just five games.

At one point, doctors advised Pouncey that he would eventually need hip replacement surgery. Hopefully, that day never comes. At minimum, Pouncey is hoping to stave off anything major until later in life. Last year, Pouncey re-upped with the Chargers on a one-year, $9MM extension. After 2020, he’ll be out of contract and eligible for free agency.

The Bolts are already without star safety Derwin James, so they’ll have to get by without some of their best talent on both sides of the ball. After passing on interior offensive lineman in this year’s draft, the Chargers may look to slide Dan Feeney from left guard to center.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chargers’ Derwin James Out For Year

Derwin James‘ season is over. The Chargers safety will need 6-8 months of recovery time following meniscus surgery, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. On Wednesday morning, the Chargers made it official by placing James on injured reserve.

[RELATED: Chargers Not Pursuing Earl Thomas]

James went down with a knee injury during Sunday’s practice and the Bolts knew immediately that it was serious. There was some hope that James could have gotten by with a trim of the meniscus, which would have kept him out until October. Unfortunately, he’ll require a full repair, which will necessitate a full season on the sidelines.

James, the No. 17 overall pick in the 2018 draft, registered three interceptions, 13 passes defensed, and 3.5 sacks as a rookie in 2018. Since that debut – which earned him a First-Team All-Pro nod – James has been plagued by injuries. Last year, a stress fracture to the fifth metatarsal of his right foot limited him to just five games. Now, James has lost his entire would-be third season.

The Chargers will now evaluate their in-house options to replace James, a group that includes Desmond King, Alohi Gilman, and 2019 second-round pick Nasir Adderly. Naturally, the Bolts were instantly connected to free agent Earl Thomas on Sunday afternoon, but head coach Anthony Lynn says he’s not interested. On the plus side, the Chargers still have plenty of talent in their secondary thanks to Casey Hayward, Desmond King, and new arrival Chris Harris.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chargers’ Derwin James Suffers Knee Injury 

Chargers safety Derwin James suffered a meniscus injury during practice on Sunday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The Bolts are awaiting word on his tests, but they’re expecting to be without James for a significant period of time. 

James’ timetable will largely depend on the severity of the tear and his personal choice on how to address it. A meniscus trim would sideline James for approximately one month. A full repair of the meniscus would take several months to heal and likely rule him out for the year.

Unfortunately, this is familiar territory for the promising young safety. Last August, James suffered a stress fracture of the fifth metatarsal of his right foot. That injury kept him off the field until November, limiting him to just five games in 2019. That was hardly the encore James expected. As a rookie in 2018, the No. 17 overall pick posted three interceptions, 13 passes defensed, and 3.5 sacks. For his efforts, Pro Football Focus graded James as the league’s seventh-best safety and he also garnered a first-team All-Pro nod.

If James opts for a full repair, it’s possible that the Chargers could consider free agent Earl Thomas. Thomas played for defensive coordinator Gus Bradley in Seattle, and Bradley sees some similarities between the two players.

Normally, I don’t like to compare guys, but he’s unique because he has the speed of a corner. He has the athleticism to make plays in space. He can play in the box. He’s a good rusher. I see some of those traits in [James],” Bradley says of James last December (via Sports Illustrated). “I see a guy that can cover a lot of field like Earl Thomas, can cover a lot of ground. So, I see bits and pieces of that.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chargers Activate Derwin James, Adrian Phillips

While the Chargers’ playoff hopes are dim, they’ll be receiving some much-needed reinforcement for the stretch run. The team announced today that they’ve activated safeties Derwin James and Adrian Phillips from injured reserve.

James suffered a stress fracture of the fifth metatarsal of his right foot in August after a screw that was originally inserted during his freshman year at Florida State bent back. The injury required a surgical operation, and a new screw has since been placed. James has been running without any pain for several weeks now, and he presumably won’t have any limitations tomorrow against the Broncos. The 17th overall pick in the 2018 draft 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, and he also garnered a first-team All-Pro nod.

Phillips suffered a broken forearm in a September loss to the Lions, knocking him out of action. The 27-year-old earned his first career Pro Bowl nod last year, with the hybrid safety/linebacker finishing with 94 tackles, nine passes defended, and one interception. He had compiled 14 tackles in two games this season before going down with an injury.

With James and fellow safeties Adrian Phillips and Nasir Adderley on IR, the Chargers have primarily deployed Rayshawn Jenkins and undrafted rookie Roderic Teamer in the back end. So far, the results have been lackluster; after finishing 8th in defensive DVOA in 2018, Los Angeles now ranks 25th in the same metric.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.