Derwin James signs Chargers extension that makes him highest-paid safety in NFL history

Derwin James is getting paid and making history.

The Los Angeles Chargers announced on Wednesday that they've signed James to a multi-year contract extension. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the four-year deal makes him the highest-paid safety in NFL history. The contract is reportedly worth $76.4 million and will pay James over $19 million a year.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that the deal includes $42 million guaranteed. James was slated to make around $9 million in 2022.

James, 26, was selected by the Chargers with the 17th overall pick in the 2018 draft. He was a standout in his rookie year, logging 3.5 sacks, three interceptions, 13 pass breakups and 105 tackles. He was named a first-team All-Pro and selected to his first Pro Bowl that year, finishing second in the Defensive Rookie of the Year race. His 2021 season was also outstanding, earning him another first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection. He also finished third in Comeback Player of the Year voting, as he missed most of 2019 and all of 2020 with injuries.

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James had been sitting out practices at training camp while his agent, David Mulugheta, and the Chargers negotiated a new deal. He missed his 14th practice Tuesday, but that holdout should end now that he and the Chargers have reached agreement on an extension.

The prolonged contract talks and James' holdout didn't affect how head coach Brandon Staley thinks about and values him. On Tuesday, Staley had nothing but glowing words to say about James.

“I don’t look at Derwin as a safety,” Staley said via the Los Angeles Times. “I look at Derwin as an impact player. If you were just looking at him as a safety, that wouldn’t be doing Derwin justice. For me, I look at him as a defensive back.”

A number of James' friends in the NFL congratulated him on Twitter for getting such a historic contract.

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 21: Derwin James #33 of the Los Angeles Chargers warms up before the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at SoFi Stadium on November 21, 2021 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
With Derwin James' reported contract extension with the Chargers, he'll be the highest-paid safety in NFL history. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)