Derwin James is entering the final season of his rookie contract, but the Los Angeles Chargers safety is looking for a long-term extension.
Per USA Today's Tyler Dragon, the Chargers and James are "cautiously optimistic" about working out a new deal before the start of the regular season.
This seems to signal the two sides have come a long way in the past month. Dragon reported on March 5 that James and the Chargers hadn't started talking about a long-term contract.
The Chargers have since filled out their roster during free agency. They signed J.C. Jackson, Sebastian Joseph-Day and Austin Johnson to help with their needs on defense.
Los Angeles picked up the fifth-year option in James' rookie deal in April 2021. He is set to earn $9.05 million in 2022, per Spotrac.
It will be interesting to see how the Chargers structure James' contract, if a deal gets worked out. The 25-year-old is one of the best safeties in the NFL when healthy.
PFF LA Chargers @PFF_Chargers
Derwin James has been a jack-of-all-trades AGAIN this season 👀<br><br>🔹 77.4 PFF Grade (11th among Safeties)<br>🔹 76.5 Run Defense Grade (18th)<br>🔹 76.2 Coverage Grade (t-14th)<br>🔹 80.0 Pass Rush Grade (3rd) <a href="https://t.co/KOJ3dLODTa">pic.twitter.com/KOJ3dLODTa</a>
James has been named to the Pro Bowl in each of the two seasons he's played at least 15 games (2018, 2021) and was an All-Pro first-team selection as a rookie in 2018.
Durability has been a problem for James in his career. The Florida State alum missed the first 11 games of the 2019 season due to a stress fracture in his foot that required surgery. He suffered a torn meniscus in a preseason practice that required season-ending surgery in September 2020.
The 2021 season was an excellent return to form for James after missing most of the previous two years. He ranked second on the Chargers with 118 combined tackles, tied for second with seven tackles for loss and recorded two sacks.
Los Angeles looks poised to be one of the top teams in the AFC next season thanks to its offseason additions. Justin Herbert has established himself among the league's top quarterbacks.
James is one of the most important players on the defense. The Chargers have every incentive to lock him up long term as they look to compete with the Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders in a loaded AFC West.