Ja’Wuan James Suffers Season-Ending Injury
The Denver Broncos are forced with an interesting decision after right tackle Ja’Wuan James suffered a torn Achilles tendon earlier this week.
James will miss the entire 2021 season after undergoing surgery to repair the tendon, and his career with the Broncos could potentially be over.
Since the injury occurred off-site, the Broncos could get out of paying the $9.85 million that is owed to him for the upcoming season. The Broncos would have to classify this as a non-football injury to get out of the contract, even though James was reportedly doing football activities.
Injuries have plagued James throughout his tenure in Denver, and his status with the team was actually in jeopardy before this injury occurred. James has played in just 63 snaps with the Broncos since signing a four-year, $51 million contract in March 2019.
It was reported that James was actually healthy prior to the 2020 season, but he chose to opt out due to COVID-19 medical reasons. Injuries have plagued him, dating all the way back to his time with the Miami Dolphins.
James was able to play a full 16 games in both 2014 and 2016 but has not played more than eight games in any other season. This injury will now force the Broncos to search for help on the offensive line, and they could do so by shedding the money owed to James.
Many draft experts believed that the Broncos would be searching for offensive line help in the 2021 NFL Draft, but the recent progress of James kept them from doing so. James has actually been working out at the team facility, and head coach Vic Fangio and general manager George Paton have liked his progress.
This injury also brings to light a bigger picture as players and teams from across the league are looking to do off-site workouts rather than show up at the team facility. The league adopted a virtual workout program in 2020, but that has not been put in place for the current offseason.
NFLPA Unhappy With the League
After the injury to James occurred, the NFL sent out a memo to all players warning them about the dangers of working out off-site. The threat of having a salary withheld was included in that memo, along with the possibility of fines from the teams.
This has been an ongoing battle over the last few weeks, and there doesn’t seem to be a resolution coming anytime soon. The Broncos have not made a decision about what to do with James and his salary, but the league wants teams to crack down on this type of behavior.
The NFLPA responded earlier this week with a statement ripping the league for using the injury to James as a point of emphasis. These memos are sent out to teams and players all of the time in the league, but using James’ name in the memo is what upset the union.
Denver was the first team that stated it would boycott the current voluntary workout rules, and other teams have since followed suit.
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