Report: Broncos starting RT Ja’Wuan James opts out of 2020 NFL season

By Jesse Reed
Jun 4, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James (70) looks on during mini camp drills at the Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse at UCHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos are one of the teams expected to take a big leap in 2020. If they do, they’ll have to find some new protection on the right side of the line for Drew Lock. According to Mike Klis of 9News in Denver, starting right tackle Ja’Wuan James has opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns.

Not long afterward, James himself confirmed his decision.

This is a big blow to Denver’s offense. The offensive line was already a weak unit last season, and James was expected to provide a boost in 2020.

Ja’Wuan James was high-priced free agent in 2019, suffered season-ending injury

During the 2019 NFL offseason, Denver paid a lot of money to bring James into the fold. He had played his first five seasons with the Miami Dolphins, who selected him in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Then when free agency opened up in March of 2019, the Broncos agreed with James on a four-year, $51 million contract.

Unfortunately, James appeared in just three games last season. He ended up tearing multiple ligaments in his knee during Week 1, tried to come back and “re-tore all the scar tissue that was healing and then ended up tearing part of my meniscus,” he explained, per Nicki Jhabvala of the Athletic.

After getting healthy again, he’s now opted out of the season, leaving the Broncos in a tough spot up front.

Per Spotrac, James was set to earn $10 million in base salary in 2020. Instead, he will take a $150,000 advance on that salary this year.