Clayton: Numbers from the Ja’Wuan James situation are starting to emerge

May 28, 2021, 3:54 PM
Offensive tackle Ja'Wuan James #70 of the Denver Broncos on the sideline during a pre season game a...
(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

The numbers are in on the Broncos search for someone to replace right tackle Ja’Waun Jones.

Bobby Massie signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract that included $1.575 million in guarantees. Cameron Fleming signed a one-year, $1.67 million deal with $1 million in guarantees.

For the moment, the cost is two contracts worth $4.075 million. The combined cap number is $3.925 million. Not bad.

Currently, James counts $13 million against the cap. That will change on Tuesday. The Broncos designated James as a June 1 cut. On Tuesday, his $10 million base salary will come off the books. He will count $3 million as proration this year and $6 million in 2022.

The cap number for this year could go up and should go up. You figure James and the NFLPA will file a grievance to preserve the base salary guarantees in his contract.

James has $10 million of guarantees, but the way the Broncos releasing him could wipe that out. He suffered the Achilles tear outside team headquarters. They put him on the non-football-injury list before officially releasing him. Teams often win these type of grievances.

The Broncos gave James a four-year, $51 million deal in 2019. A knee injury shortened his season to three games and only 63 plays. James opted out last season, which pushed that $10 million guarantee into this year.

The Achilles tear ended up his tenure with the Broncos. Three years, 63 plays. Not good.

One thing the Broncos have shown is that they are willing pay offensive linemen. Left tackle Garett Bolles is making $17 million a year. Graham Glasgow is making $11 million a year to play guard.

It’s sad James suffered the injury and the potential financial loss. At least the Broncos might be able to replace him and have a backup at less than twice the cost.

John Clayton

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