Los Angeles Chargers star safety Derwin James is in training camp, but he’s out.
James is part of a recently-established NFL trend called the “Hold-In.”
James is in Chargers training camp in Costa Mesa, ostensibly participating in meetings and walkthroughs, but not live contact drills. DK Metcalf of the Seahawks and Deebo Samuel of the San Francisco are also members of the 2022 Hold In Club. Boy, those wide receivers are prima donnas.
By ‘holding in’ at training camp, James avoids the heavy fines the Chargers could impose. In this case, he also has a convenient excuse, the 25-year old is also coming off of shoulder surgery.
And he has a much more common excuse for holding in.
James is looking to cash in before he walks out to practice. The Florida State product is expected to sign a big deal soon, perhaps making him the highest-paid safety in the NFL.
Derwin, The Player
James was a first-round pick of the Chargers in 2018 and immediately made an impact, being named All-Pro and to the Pro Bowl as a rookie. James has special skills needed in the NFL these days to handle offenses with multiple wide receiver sets. He’s big enough to match tight ends and fast enough to stay with wide receivers.
James has had an injury-plagued career. He only played five games in 2019 before suffering a stress fracture in his foot. He tore his right meniscus in his knee in 2020 training camp, which was a big moment when the Chargers were featured on HBO’s iconic series Hard Knocks.
Last year James returned to prominence and got back to the Pro Bowl with a career-high 118 tackles and two interceptions. Hey, if it means anything, Madden ’23 rated James the second-best safety in the NFL with a 93 overall rating.
Derwin The Money
James is in the final year of his rookie contract and is most commonly compared to Steelers star Minkah Fitzpatrick. The two were selected just six picks apart in the 2018 Draft.
Fitzpatrick is now the highest-paid safety in the NFL, with an average salary of $18.4 million.
James? His contract average is 35th, as of now, at just under $3.1 million, but is set to make $9 million this season. Scratch that, though; he’s going to make more.
Jamal Adams of the Seahawks is the second highest paid safety in the NFL ($17.6 million) followed by the Vikings Harrison Smith ($16 million).
Is Derwin Worth It?
When asked about James after practice Wednesday, Chargers coach Brandon Staley was calm, saying that all was well, that James was healthy and would be a full go once the contract situation was settled.
The Chargers could be playing hardball with their star safety because while James has great numbers when he plays, Fitzpatrick has never missed a game in his four years, and James has missed almost two full seasons.
Still, though, talents like James don’t come along very often.
James has been a consummate pro for the Chargers and is the type of back-end safety that teams need. By ‘holding in’ James is showing his loyalty to the team and his teammates. That type of loyalty should be rewarded by the Chargers.
I don’t know that I would give James $20 million a year, or even more than Fitzpatrick, but he’s a valuable player that needs to stay in a Charger uniform.