Derwin James has skipped Chargers practice since the start of training camp while negotiating a long-term contract with the team. Now, with the 2022 season opener less than a month away, the two sides have struck their deal, agreeing Wednesday to a four-year, $76.5 million extension that makes James the highest-paid safety in NFL history. The new deal, reported by NFL Media and confirmed by CBS Sports NFL insider Jonathan Jones, ties the All-Pro defender to Los Angeles through 2026.

Chargers coach Brandon Staley all but endorsed James' camp hold-in when L.A. kicked off summer practice, signaling an extension was on the horizon. James, 26, was set to enter the final year of his rookie deal, which will still pay him $9M in 2022. His extension includes a record $42M signing bonus, as well as a record first-year payout of $29M in 2023. In total, it'll have an average annual payout of $19.1M, the highest mark for a safety, ahead of even the Steelers' Minkah Fitzpatrick, who got his own extension this year.

Including the final season of his rookie deal, James' total contract runs five years for $85.5M, averaging just over $17M per year, which would still rank third among all active safety contracts.

Drafted 17th overall by the Chargers in 2018, the fifth-year veteran has been one of the game's top play-making defensive backs when healthy. The Florida State product appeared in just five games from 2019-2020 due to back-to-back season-ending surgeries for foot and knee injuries. But he earned All-Pro honors in 2018 and 2021, each time topping 100 tackles and logging multiple sacks and interceptions. Last season, his first under Staley, James registered 118 tackles, two sacks, two picks and three forced fumbles.