Report: Chargers make James top-paid safety with 4-year, $76.4M deal
The reported deal will make James the highest-paid safety in the NFL with an annual average salary of $19.13 million. He will also receive $42 million guaranteed and $29 million in the first year of the contract, both records at his position, sources told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
The Chargers announced Wednesday that they had signed James to a multi-year contract.
James was set to earn $9 million this season in the final year of his rookie deal. Pittsburgh Steelers standout Minkah Fitzpatrick previously topped the safety market with a salary of $18.25 million.
The 26-year-old has been staging a "hold-in" while looking for an extension, participating only in walk-through sessions and sitting out padded practices at training camp.
Chargers head coach Brandon Staley said Tuesday he wasn't concerned about James getting up to speed for the start of the season.
"I don't worry about Derwin," Staley said, according to Elliott Teaford of the Los Angeles Daily News. "Derwin has given us no reason to worry. It would be one thing if he wasn't here, but we see him every day.
"He's in the best shape of his life. This is the first time in a while he's had a full offseason with nothing to prohibit him from training. He feels great, so that gives us a lot of confidence."
The 17th overall pick in the 2018 draft starred as a rookie, earning first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors before struggling with injuries over the next two seasons. He missed 11 games in 2019 due to a foot injury and all of the 2020 campaign because of a knee injury.
But James bounced back last year. He racked up 117 tackles, two interceptions, three forced fumbles, and two sacks in 15 appearances to earn his second first-team All-Pro nomination.