The most notable player on the LA Chargers who is playing under an expiring contract in 2022 is superstar safety, Derwin James. James is playing under his fifth-year option in 2022 and the Chargers are definitely in the business of extending James and keeping him in the powder blue.
There is a risk involved with James' injury history (which includes surgery on his labrum this past offseason that we are just now learning about) but he is so impactful as a player that the Bolts are going to have no other option than to extend him.
Tom Telesco was able to work out new extensions with both Joey Bosa and Keenan Allen before the final year of their contracts was up and the Chargers GM could be looking to do the same with James. USA Today's Tyler Dragon reported that James and the Chargers have started preliminary discussions on an extension with the expectation of getting a deal done before the season begins.
This is perfect timing for James as Minkah Fitzpatrick just agreed to his contract extension with the Pittsburgh Steelers, officially setting the price for the Chargers to extend their star safety.
The Chargers are going to have to pay Derwin James around $75 million to keep him in LA.
Minkah Fitzpatrick agreed to a four-year contract that is worth $18.4 million per year, bringing the total contract value to $73.6 million. The total guarantees have not yet been announced, but based on how NFL contracts work, they are probably in the $45-50 million range.
Fitzpatrick just set the market for his fellow safeties to strive towards and this is the number that James' agent is going to be taking to the Chargers. If the Bolts want to bring James back they are going to have to offer something similar, and nine times out of 10, they are going to have to beat that offer.
Because it is a round number that would result in James getting paid more than Fitzpatrick, I would estimate that the former first-round pick will get a four-year, $75 million extension from the Chargers (assuming he does get extended). This would give him an annual salary of $18.75 million. He would obviously be the highest-paid safety in the league.
The Chargers will manipulate the cap hits in whatever way needed to ensure that their hands are not completely tied in future offseasons and the guarantees will likely be slightly more than Fitzpatrick's. That is how the game works; one player agrees to a contract and it sets the table for everyone else.
Derwin James was never going to be cheap to bring back but at least we now have an idea of just how much he is going to get in his new deal.