The LA Chargers made Derwin James the highest-paid safety in NFL history on Wednesday with a massive four-year, $76.4 million contract extension. James is much more than just a safety, though, as his versatility makes him the heart and soul of this Chargers defense. Brandon Staley himself has said that the defense is built around its heart and soul, which is James.
Another young player that shares a similar versatile skillset is Cowboys' Micah Parsons. While not a member of the secondary, Parsons lit the NFL world ablaze in his rookie year with his ability to be a disrupter on defense.
Originally drafted as an outside linebacker, Parsons played on the defensive line as well (first starting in Week 2 against the Chargers) proving that he can make plays happen anywhere along the front seven.
According to Pro Football Focus, Parsons played 498 snaps in the box, 394 snaps on the defensive line and even played 20 snaps at slot corner. He finished with 67 pressure and 14 sacks en route to being named an All-Pro and the Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Both guys are freak athletes that are among the 1% at their position. That being said, Parsons still did not want any smoke from Derwin James, who recently challenged Parsons to a race at Kollective's Elite Week NFL training.
Game respects game and Parsons himself said how freakishly athletic James is. While Parsons is a beast in his own right, we cannot blame him for not wanting to race one of the best defensive backs in the sport.
Micah Parsons got the last laugh over Derwin James and the Chargers at joint practice, though.
The LA Chargers' offense had some bumps and bruises the first day of joint practice against the Cowboys which also included a not-so-great showing from the offensive line. Leading the way against the Chargers' O-line was indeed Parsons, who made Trey Pipkins look silly on more than one equation.
James, meanwhile, did not participate in the joint practice against the Cowboys. James has been holding in during contract negotiations and despite him wanting to jump in there, the Chargers are smartly taking it slow with their All-Pro safety.
The Chargers defense still had a pretty good showing without James in joint practice with some key plays as well as the run defense shining, which is something every fan wants to hear.
It would have been nice to see James back in action against another NFL team, though. Every fan has been missing that content.