Derwin James is one of the best safeties in the entire NFL and is a critical part of the LA Chargers defense. James has been mostly injured over the last two seasons but is putting together another fantastic season for the Bolts in 2021.
James is in the last year of his rookie deal, although the Chargers announced before the 2021 season that they were picking up his fifth-year option for being a first-round pick. Thus, James will be a free agent after the 2022 season but the hope is that the Chargers can sign him to an extension before that is even an issue.
By signing James to an extension the team can keep him from leaving to the team across the hall, the LA Rams. The Rams are seemingly bringing in every big-name player and Jalen Ramsey has been at the forefront of recruiting, even facetiming Odell Beckham Jr. to get him to come to LA.
Ramsey knows his role as a recruiter on the Rams and is good friends with Derwin James. The recruiting has seemingly already started as Ramsey told the media that he is already working on getting Derwin James to come to the Rams.
Ramsey says he is joking, then says he isn't joking and the reality is that he probably has had some conversations with James behind closed doors about teaming up together down the line. It is not an immediate problem, but these kinds of conversations are the last thing that the Chargers want.
Are the LA Rams an actual threat to sign Derwin James away from the LA Chargers?
The NFL salary cap is a variable as the exact numbers each year have not yet been released and teams can do a lot of cap maneuvering in order to free up space or somehow spend multiple seasons above the cap number.
The Rams are currently right up against the cap and as it currently stands, the team is projected to have $88 million in cap space after the 2022 season. However, only 26 players are under contract right now for the 2023 season and Matthew Stafford is a free agent after the 2022 season.
While the team is going to have a lot of holes to fill, it really is not losing any big-name players in free agency. Sure, they are losing some of the veterans they brought in this season but there are always new veterans to bring in. The team will need a new left tackle to replace Andrew Whitworth but besides that, there really is not an area to spend significant money on.
So for that reason, yes, the LA Rams would be a threat to the LA Chargers to sign Derwin James after the 2022 season if the Chargers cannot come to terms on an extension beforehand.
Derwin James really seems to enjoy being a Charger and hopefully that overrides potentially playing with Jalen Ramsey.