Inside the Derwin James deal

Los Angeles Chargers v Houston Texans
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Chargers safety Derwin James successfully ended his hold in by cashing in, big time.

We’ve gotten a look at the full deal, thanks to a source with knowledge of the contract. It’s a four-year extension of the final year of his first-round rookie deal from 2018.

Here are the details, in full:

1. Signing bonus: $20.532 million.

2. 2022 base salary: $4.052 million, fully guaranteed.

3. 2023 option bonus: $12 million, fully guaranteed.

4. 2023 base salary: $2 million, fully guaranteed.

5. 2024 base salary: $12.75 million, $3.415 million of which is fully guaranteed by early 2023.

6. 2025 90-man offseason roster bonus: $3 million.

7. 2025 base salary: $13.75 million.

8. 2026 90-man offseason roster bonus: $3 million.

9. 2026 base salary: $14.5 million.

It’s a four-year, $76 million extension. That translates to a new-money average of $19 million. Of that amount, $38.584 million is fully guaranteed at signing. Another $3.415 million becomes guaranteed by 2023, pushing the total to $42 million.

Over five years, it’s a deal that pays out $85.584 million, and average at signing of $17.116 million.

James is guaranteed two years, with that extra bit that trickles into 2024. The final two seasons, at $16.75 million an $17.5 million, are essentially year-to-year options for the Chargers.

It’s a great deal for James. It pushes the injury risk to the Chargers, and there’s reason to be concerned about injury based on his first four years in the NFL. In 2019, he missed 11 games. In 2020, he missed the whole season.

But when he’s healthy, he’s among the best defensive players in the league. Coach Brandon Staley basically said that the other day. If you feel that way about the player, the team has no choice but to pay him accordingly.

12 responses to “Inside the Derwin James deal

  1. When he’s healthy….and you do have the choice of simply offering less and letting him leave, and letting someone else overpay. $19 mil for a safety? I didn’t realize Ronnie Lott was back in the league. Crazy money. Has only played 36 of 65 games to date. Ability and availability. First time he gets hurt, that’s 7-8% of cap gone. Risky move. Good luck to him and hope he plays the next 85 games under the deal.

  2. 2024 is when it will become interesting, if he is healthy and still playing at an elite level the arrangement will go on to 2025, but often we see with these deals it’s rare that the player and the team ever finish the contract.

  3. Indeed a great deal. Now if the rest of us could get that kind of money for showing up to work half the time.

  4. There’s always a choice. In this case the alternative choice would have been easy – they could have allowed him to continue to “hold in”.

  5. Injuries aside, this is a ton of money for what is relatively speaking, a low value position on the defensive side of the ball. James is a marvelous player, but there’s a lot of people who are far smarter than I that wouldn’t dream of committing this amount of cash to the safety position.

  6. Cap hell on the horizon… only time LA cares about the chargers, is when our phones batteries hit 10%

  7. Another example of a team making a stupid decision that impacts every other franchise in the league.
    Christian Kirk’s ludicrous contract turbocharged the compensation for wide receivers, greatly affecting other teams in doing so.
    Kirk isn’t that good and James can never stay healthy, but damage done by stupid player personnel decisions by the Jaguars and Chargers will filter down to teams who aren’t that dumb and irresponsible.

  8. Remember this injured guy we drafted in the 3rd who sucked so bad in preseason he didn’t play a snap in week 1 but went on to set rookie records? Next year 25% less receiving yards, 50% less TD’S & missed the last 2 games with a broken collar bone. The next year he lacerated his kidney Nov.3 & missed the rest of the season. And the next year he missed the entire season minus 2 quarters with a torn ACL. And NOW we know him as SLAYER – #13 Keenan Allen. So…injury history injury schmishdtory! Derwin is not the best safety in the league. DJ is the Best Defensive Back in the league.

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