Derwin James

Latest On Chargers S Derwin James

Chargers safety Derwin James had offseason shoulder surgery that has limited him during the early part of minicamp, reports USA Today’s Tyler Dragon (on Twitter). While James is limited, it’s a good sign that he’s already on the field, and Dragon notes that the defensive back is expected to be a full participant by the time training camp comes around.

[RELATED: Latest On Derwin James Extension Talks]

“Derwin didn’t participate in any of the seven-on-seven this spring because of him coming off the labrum surgery,” coach Brandon Staley told reporters (via ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry). “We wanted to make sure he stayed out of the competitive seven-on-seven. He did all the individual work … he was in all our 11-on-11 team stuff.”

“It was more just precautionary in nature and if you know anything about Derwin, it killed him that he wasn’t out there, for sure.”

James missed a pair of contests in 2021 because of a hamstring injury, but he otherwise started 15 games. As Thiry observes, James did land on the injury report early in the season with a shoulder ailment, but it didn’t force him to miss any time. The former first-round pick earned his second Pro Bowl nod in 2021 after finishing with 118 tackles, two sacks, three forced fumbles, and two interceptions. The safety was limited to only five games in 2019 before sitting out the 2020 campaign, so it was a positive sign for both the player and organization that he could return to his Pro Bowl status.

With James entering the final year of his rookie contract, Dragon tweets that the two sides have started “preliminary” discussions on a long-term deal. There have been recent reports that the organization and the safety were both optimistic that they’d agree on an extension before the start of next season. The two sides are expected to continue negotiating with the expectation that they’ll agree to a deal before the start of next season.

Latest On Derwin James Extension Talks

The Chargers have made multiple large additions to their defense this offseason, but there is still important business to be taken care of with one of the unit’s homegrown players. Safety Derwin James is entering the final year of his rookie contract, but there is reason to believe he will have a new deal by the start of next season. 

[RELATED: Mutual Interest For James Extension]

USA Today’s Tyler Dragon reports (on Twitter) that both James and the team are “cautiously optimistic” a new contract will be negotiated in the near future. It was reported last month that each party was looking to get a long-term deal done, so a lack of friction on the matter (at least for now) doesn’t come as a surprise.

James, 25, has demonstrated the potential he was touted with coming out of college in 2018. He earned Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors in a highly productive rookie season. While he was limited to just five games the following year, he still graded out well in terms of PFF rating. He bounced back from missing the entire 2020 campaign, starting all 15 contests he played in last season.

While dollar figures on a new contract may be hard to speculate on, given the Florida State product’s varied usages and positional versatility, there is cause for optimism that James could join Mike Williams as a key piece to the roster being retained for the long-term future. If that happens, defensive additions such as Khalil Mack and J.C. Jackson could help vault the Chargers into true AFC contention.

Mutual Interest For Derwin James Extension

Chargers’ safety Derwin James is currently set to head into the fifth year of his rookie contract, after the team exercised his fifth-year option in April of last year. According to Tyler Dragon of USA Today, there’s mutual interest in getting a long-term extension done, but negotiations will not start until the summer. 

James was a first-round draft pick for the Chargers in the 2018 NFL Draft. The Florida State prospect shot out of a cannon finishing second in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting and being announced as a first-team All-Pro and a Pro Bowler in his rookie season. His sophomore season was cut short after having surgery due to a stress fracture in his right foot. His 2020 NFL season got cut short before it even started with James suffering a torn meniscus a week before the team’s season opener. James made his long-anticipated return to the gridiron this past season, returning to form while making his second Pro Bowl team and finishing third in Comeback Player of the Year voting.

James’ numbers won’t pop out at you. Even when only looking at his two full seasons of play, his totals of 5 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, 5.5 sacks, and 11.0 tackles for loss over two years won’t rank anywhere near the top of any position groups. While the Chargers list him as a safety, his role is much closer to a glorified linebacker. When healthy, James will absolutely be one of the team’s top tacklers. He has a nose for the football and can find his way to the ball-carrier effectively. And, while not elite in any of the above statistical categories, his ability to cover, force turnovers, rush the passer, and make plays behind the line of scrimmage make him a valuable asset to the Los Angeles defense. It is truly his versatility they value.

It is this same versatility that makes a contract discussion for James a troubling concept. Do they pay James like a top-tier strong safety or shell out a little extra to pay him like a top tier linebacker?

The top safeties in the game, that don’t play exclusively in a free safety role, are players like Budda Baker ($14.75MM aav), John Johnson ($11.25MM aav), and Micah Hyde ($9.63MM aav). The top linebackers in the game, that aren’t pass-rushing specialists, are players like Darius Leonard ($19.7MM aav), Bobby Wagner ($18MM aav), and C.J. Mosley ($17MM aav). So, obviously, if you were going to pay him like you play him, James’ extension numbers should be closer to the $17-20MM per year range than the $9-15MM per year range.

Luckily, there is a very similar player in the NFL who has set a precedent for James and the Chargers to work off of: Seahawks’ safety Jamal Adams. Adams doesn’t play the field like a normal safety, either. He only has four career interceptions to his name. He does tend to make more plays on the ball when it’s in the air totaling 33 passes defended over five seasons. Adams also tends to get to the quarterback and make plays in the backfield more often than James. In 2019 & 2020 alone, Adams racked up 16.0 sacks and 21.0 tackles for loss, contributing to his career totals of 21.5 and 43.0 respectively.

As of right now, if the Chargers were to offer James an extension before he plays out his fifth-year option, I would expect the offer to look a bit like a watered-down-version of Adams’ deal. Upon finishing his first season in Seattle after being traded from the Jets to the Seahawks, Adams signed a four-year deal worth $70MM, averaging $17.5MM per year. Based off of Adams’ deal, I would expect Los Angeles to offer James a three- to four-year deal in the range of $12-15MM per year. James’ injury history will likely keep him from reaching the top-tier numbers of Adams.

That being said, with James lacking the statistical output in college, as well, the Chargers did draft him largely based off of his potential. With injuries keeping James from fully displaying his abilities over the past four years, maybe the Chargers will have much more faith in him than he’s been able to show thus far. They value him as a player and a leader, making him a team captain this past season. Perhaps they will offer him a long-term contract that reflects that.

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.

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.

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.

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.