The biggest storyline around the LA Chargers as the team is into the thick of training camp and the preseason is Derwin James' contract hold-in. James has not practiced once for the Bolts thus far as he and the franchise are working out a potential new deal for the All-Pro safety.
The messaging from both sides has been very positive and it felt like a deal was going to get done relatively soon. Tom Telesco essentially ensured fans that a deal would happen and James has remained involved during camp, just not from a physical standpoint.
However, the longer this situation has dragged on the more and more fans have worried. We have seem situations like this turn sour quickly for other NFL franchises and that is the last thing that Chargers fans want to happen.
There have been no details reported from the negotiations between the two sides with the most likely hang-up being guaranteed money. That being said, James and his agent might be pushing for more money than we expected. This entire time we have assumed that James would get top-tier safety money, and in fact, he might get top-tier cornerback money.
And if he does, James might have his head coach to thank for that. Brandon Staley explained just how valuable James is to this team and what he offers the defense, which James' agent will quickly send right back over to Telesco.
This could change the contract that the LA Chargers give Derwin James.
It was previously assumed that Derwin James would get slightly more than Minkah Fitzpatrick just got from the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier this offseason. Fitzpatrick signed a four-year, $72.9 million contract with $36 million guaranteed. Just based on how NFL markets work, it was assumed that James would sign a deal around $75 million with $38 million guaranteed.
However, safeties do not get as big of contracts as cornerbacks and if Staley is arguing that James is more than just a safety then that means he will get paid more than a safety would.
Jalen Ramsey signed a five-year, $100 million contract with the LA Rams that has $44.5 million fully guaranteed. James probably won't get that kind of money, but that is a massive difference from the $75 million we projected.
Instead of a four-year deal worth $75 million, perhaps the starting point is a four-year deal worth $80 million with just over half fully guaranteed. That would give James the same AAV as Jalen Ramsey with fewer guarantees.
Or perhaps James can try and spin his AAV on a potential four-year $75 million deal into a five-year deal, as that is what Ramsey got. That would give James a five-year, $93.75 million contract. At that price, James could probably fight for around $50 million fully guaranteed.
Regardless, this could be the potential hang-up between the two sides. Perhaps Tom Telesco and the front office are trying to pay James like a safety while James is trying to shake the safety label to make more money.
If that is truly the case then Brandon Staley just played into James' hand in these discussions.