The Denver Broncos lost starting right tackle Ja’Wuan James for the 2021 season when the veteran suffered a torn Achilles the week after this year’s draft. Now, they’ve said goodbye to him for good. As ESPN’s Field Yates reported, the Broncos have released James just over a week after he went down for the season. The lineman was due $13 million this year, but Denver will scrap his entire $9.85 million base salary by releasing him, though James’ representation is expected to push back against the move because of his recent injury.
The Broncos have opted to cut James from the non-football injury list, where he was sent following the Achilles injury, intending to clear more than $10 million from their 2021 salary cap, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. That’s mostly because James was injured away from team facilities — like wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton, who on Friday suffered a torn ACL amid a potential trade elsewhere.
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Earlier Friday, James indicated on Twitter that he wasn’t getting enough support in his predicament from the NFL Players Association.
“If (you’re) gonna advise all of us,” he wrote, “we need you to have our backs on the other end of this.”
James could be referencing NFLPA leadership that’s advised players not to participate in teams’ voluntary offseason workouts, which are conducted at team facilities rather than private sites like the one where James suffered his Achilles tear.
James’ contract situation might not be resolved anytime soon. The NFLPA will likely file a grievance on the tackle’s behalf and James’ salary will be in limbo until a resolution is reached.
The veteran tackle has had injury issues before, however. A first-round draft pick of the Dolphins in 2014, James missed all but seven games due to a toe issue with Miami in 2015, then made it eight games in 2017 before suffering a knee injury that landed him on injured reserve. Since signing a four-year, $51 million deal with Denver in 2019, James has played just three games, suffering another knee injury in his debut Broncos season and sitting out all of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.