Former Denver Broncos right tackle Ja’Wuan James has filed a grievance against the team seeking to recoup his 2021 pay, according to Profootballtalk.com.
James, 29, sustained a season-ending torn Achilles injury while working away from team facilities in early May.
The Broncos released James in May with a non-football injury designation, clearing the way for the team to void his salary for 2021.
James was set to earn $10 million in base salary in 2021. But shortly after the injury, the NFL cited James in a memo informing teams that injuries incurred in such conditions could be given the non-football injury (NFI) designation, letting teams off the hook from paying the player for missed time.
The NFL Players Association viewed that stance as a mechanism to force players to join teams’ involuntary workouts.
In an email to players, the union wrote of the league’s stance on James: “It was gutless to use a player’s serious injury as a scare tactic to get you to come running back to these workouts.
“This memo is another sign of what they think of you and also affirms that they simply want to control you year-round in any and every way that they can.”
According to the report, James contends he was working out with teammates in a manner “specifically authorized” by the team. The grievance also claims it believes the Broncos’ facilities were not compliant with Colorado’s COVID-19 guidelines.
He is reportedly seeking the $10 million he had guaranteed on his contract for 2021 and $5 million that was guaranteed for 2022.
The Broncos and the NFL reportedly declined to comment on the grievance, which will be heard by a panel of arbitrators.
James opted out of the 2020 season. He played in only three games since the Broncos signed him to a four-year, $51 million contract before the 2019 season. He dealt with a knee injury that season and played only 63 snaps for the Broncos.
James was the Miami Dolphins’ first-round draft pick out of Tennessee in 2014. Injuries cost him 18 games during his five seasons with the Dolphins before he became a free agent after the 2018 season.
–Field Level Media