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NFL Rumors: Derwin James, Chargers New Contract 'Definitely' Expected to Get Done

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVMay 18, 2022

Harry How/Getty Images

Los Angeles Chargers star Derwin James is due to hit free agency in 2023, but that might not remain the case for much longer.

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported Wednesday the Chargers are "open" to an extension with James and that the team "definitely believes this will get done."

James was an All-Pro right out of the gate as a rookie in 2018 but then made just five appearances between the next two seasons. A stress fracture in his foot kept him out for most of 2019, and then he missed all of 2020 because of a torn meniscus in his right knee.

James bounced back in a big way in 2021. He finished with 118 tackles, two sacks, three forced fumbles and two interceptions in 15 games. In addition to earning his second Pro Bowl nod, he was third in the voting for Comeback Player of the Year.

In short, the 25-year-old reminded the Chargers why he should still be considered a critical piece of the defense in the short and long term.

Head coach Brandon Staley explained to Pro Football Focus' Doug Kyed in March how the team's offseason moves were done with James in mind:

"Derwin means so much to us and a lot of people talk about arming quarterbacks but we wanted to arm Derwin with some weapons that would really bring out the best in him. I think that when you have Khalil up front and Derwin James in your secondary, that’s a good place to start. And then we were able to get JC, and now you feel like you’re a lot closer to what you want to be. Then Joey Bosa, we all know Joey’s one of the top players in the game and for him to team up with Khalil, man, what could that look like?"

Because of the foot and knee injuries, there's an obvious level of risk in extending James before the 2022 season kicks off. But waiting until next offseason carries some possible downsides of its own. Should James continue on his current track and contend for Defensive Player of the Year, his price tag will only climb.

Having to spend a few extra million on a new deal for James takes that money away from strengthening the roster around Justin Herbert.

Between Fowler's report and Staley's comments, it won't be surprising if the two sides strike a bargain this summer to end any contract drama.

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