Some big names around the NFL, like Jessie Bates III and Orlando Brown Jr., are holding out of training camp after failing to strike new contracts with their respective teams. The Chargers, meanwhile, are essentially holding their own big name out of practice. Coach Brandon Staley told reporters Wednesday that All-Pro safety Derwin James will not be a full participant in camp until both sides agree to a long-term deal. And the team is OK with that, signaling that an extension is on the horizon.
“We’re working through his contract situation, just making sure that gets situated here,” Staley said. “He’s out here doing all the walk-throughs, he’s gonna be working out, but he won’t be going full speed until that gets situated. … (We’ve) got full respect for Derwin, his agent … and I think there’s full respect on both sides. They know how much we love Derwin, Derwin knows how much we love him, and we’re just working through that process right now.”
Staley wouldn’t put a timetable on contract negotiations, but he didn’t express concern over James’ availability.
“We’re gonna let it take shape, and when it does, he’ll be out there playing,” Staley said, before adding that the Pro Bowler is physically prepared to play. “(He’s) 100% cleared. Derwin’s ready to go. He will be out there.”
James underwent shoulder surgery early this offseason, so there had been some speculation about his readiness entering camp. The 25-year-old former first-round draft pick is notably approaching the final season of his rookie contract, and he’s set to play under a fifth-year option that’ll pay him a guaranteed $9 million in 2022.
The Steelers‘ Minkah Fitzpatrick recently reset the safety market with a lucrative extension averaging over $18M per year. Considering James’ resume, he’s likely to net at least $14M per season on a long-term deal — the equivalent of what Marcus Williams, this year’s top free agent safety, got on the open market.
James has battled multiple injuries in his young career, playing just five games from 2019-2020 due to a torn meniscus and stress fracture in his foot. When healthy, however, he’s been one of the NFL‘s top playmakers at the position. As a rookie, he earned All-Pro honors for totaling 105 tackles, 3.5 sacks and three interceptions. Last season, in 15 games, James re-emerged as a star, this time for Staley’s defense, with 118 tackles, two sacks, two picks and three forced fumbles.