The Los Angeles Chargers have Super Bowl aspirations. The team is led by second-year player’s coach Brandon Staley. Justin Herbert is a generational talent at quarterback who has 69 touchdown passes in his first two seasons — the most in NFL history.
A strong defense led by edge rushers Joey Bosa and former defensive player of the year Khalil Mack. The piece that sets the Chargers apart from the competition is safety Derwin James Jr., the rangy, athletic, ballhawking, heat-seeking missile, who’s capable of playing like a linebacker or running step-for-step with gifted receivers like Travis Kelce and Daren Waller.
The former Florida State Seminoles star has been likened to the last great Washington Commanders safety Sean Taylor and former Chiefs All-Pro Eric Berry. In his first four NFL seasons, James has been named First-Team All-Pro twice (2018 and 2021) and a Pro Bowler those same years. During a recent training camp visit from “The Pivot Podcast,” James Jr. talked about a bevy of topics, including his new contract and his belief that he’s the league’s best safety.
“I know what I deserve, I feel like I’m the best safety in the league. I know where I’m at, I know where I stand, I know what I can offer, I know what I can do,” James said without a flinch.
Love that @derwinjames knows where he stands…
“I’m the best safety in the league”
His new contract says the @chargers feel the exact same way! @thepivot “Highest paid safety in NFL History”https://t.co/LGtLMw8HFM@FredTaylorMade @OfficialCrowder @alicialauren pic.twitter.com/TGPV4srKIE
— Ryan Clark (@Realrclark25) August 20, 2022
James exudes supreme confidence in his abilities and the Chargers seem to agree recently, making him the highest-paid safety in NFL history. He also told host Ryan Clark that he’s not worried about what anyone else is doing. He focuses on what he has to do in head coach Brandon Staley and defensive coordinator’s Renaldo Hill’s aggressive attacking scheme. James also says he feels the best should be compensated like it, and he’s the best, so in his eyes it’s only right.
James Talks Avoiding Pitfalls
James says coming up he was no “angel” but managed to avoid that big mistake which would have cost him a chance at playing the game at this level. He also said he made sure to never put himself in a position where it could really hurt him having to deal with the law. Says he didn’t want his name sprinkled all over the internet and media, and he prided himself on never having to deal with that.
— Pivot Podcast (@thepivot) August 19, 2022
Chargers Make James Highest-Paid Safety In The League
Last week as the Chargers continued preparation for their preseason game with the Dallas Cowboys the team also signed James to a record extension for a safety. James and the team agreed to a four-year, $76.4 million extension, one with $42 million in guarantees. His $19.1 million average annual value is also the highest-ever for a safety. At the time of the deal James had this to say.
“I’m more comfortable this year doing it. Just hearing coach Staley in my ear this year versus the first time last year, it’s more comfortable. It sound familiar to me. I kind of can finish some of the calls before he says it to me now, so that’s cool.”
Build around Derwin James 🗣 pic.twitter.com/yHTYminzlg
— PFF (@PFF) April 1, 2022
Staley has high expectations of James, and even said he was “the straw that stirs the drink.”
“We want Derwin to be the signal-caller of our defense because we feel like he is the leader of our defense. We feel like the way he plays, where he plays — whether he’s playing safety, star or money — he’s in the middle of the defense. He never leaves the field. We think that that’s important. We think that can be an advantage.”