Derwin James is the best defensive player on the LA Chargers. Period. With all due respect to Joey Bosa and J.C. Jackson, James is the quarterback of the defense and what he adds to the team is extremely important.
James is one of the best safeties in the league and there are not many (if any) guys who can do what he does with his versatility. He is a true one-of-one and that is why a future extension will make him the highest-paid safety in the NFL.
James is entering the last year of his contract and based on how the team handed out extensions to Joey Bosa and Keenan Allen, it appears that the Chargers want to pay James before the season to keep him from even thinking about free agency. As it stands right now, the Chargers appear to be optimistic that an extension will happen.
While every single Chargers fan wants to see Derwin James stay in Los Angeles as long as possible, there are some inherent risks with the Chargers handing him an extension right now. As unfortunate as it is, James has only played two full seasons in his four-year NFL career, missing 27 combined games in 2019 and 2020.
His injury history dates back to college as well and that is one of the main reasons why he fell to the Chargers in the 2018 NFL Draft. In a perfect world, the Chargers would let Derwin play out the 2022 season and if he stays healthy, give him the monster payday that he is looking for.
Unfortunately, that is not how business in the NFL works. Thus, the Chargers are weighed with this massive risk of paying someone record-setting money knowing that injuries are a potential concern in the future.
At the end of the day, it is a risk that the LA Chargers have to absolutely take.
This is part of the business in the NFL. There are very few decisions in the NFL that come easily and this is an example of something that the team simply has to do despite the risks involved. It would be malpractice by the team to let Derwin James go into the season without at least trying to work out an extension with him.
Because then the contract talks trickle into the season. And as much as James will tell the media it does not matter, it always does. We have seen these situations blow up in teams' faces before and even if James stays healthy, can you blame him for not fully committing to a franchise that seemingly would not trust him?
It is not uncommon for teams to exercise caution in these situations as well. Back in 2018, the Seahawks did not want to pay Earl Thomas, didn't pay him and then Thomas got injured and infamously flipped off his own sideline. Thomas was coming off of a Second Team All-Pro nod and was never the same after that injury.
The Seahawks dodged a bullet and the Chargers are going to look at that situation when they are deciding exactly what to do. The main difference here, though, is that Derwin James is four years younger than Thomas was when that happened. That is going to play a massive part in the decision-making and is ultimately why the team will push to extend him.
The risks are scary but the Bolts ultimately have to dive into the deep end knowing that there is a chance it hurts the team in the long run. It would be a disservice to commit this many assets into a Super Bowl window only to let the risks outweigh the rewards of extending the best defensive player on the team.