Broncos RT Ja'Wuan James Opts Out of 2020 Season
For the last couple of weeks, a tinfoil hat theory matriculated through the fan base that if the Denver Broncos were going to have any veteran opt-out of the 2020 season due to the coronavirus, it would be right tackle Ja'Wuan James.
Call it a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts, I guess, but it came true. Per KUSA's Mike Klis, James has opted out.
Obviously, this puts the Broncos in a less-than-ideal situation at right tackle. Instead of competing with Garett Bolles for the left tackle job, Elijah Wilkinson — when he returns off the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list — is likely to be the Broncos starter at right tackle. Wilkinson started 12 games at right tackle for the Broncos last year to lackluster results.
The Broncos have three other viable tackle options on the roster currently in Jake Rodgers, Calvin Anderson, and Quinn Bailey. There's also the undrafted rookie from Central Arkansas Hunter Watts.
As it stands, I would expect two of those four tackles to make the Broncos 53-man roster. It'll be a bitter fight this summer in training camp and with no preseason snaps with which to evaluate, it'll make the decision difficult for the team.
It's unclear whether James' opt-out will garner the high-risk designation (I am not currently aware of any condition the player has or his immediate family that would put him in that category) but the lowest figure for opted-out players is $150K but it's an advance on their future salary. High-risk designated opt-outs get a $350K stipend
James can afford to make less this year than an individual game check because he received $17 million from the Broncos, between his signing bonus and guaranteed base salary, when he signed as a prized free agent. James went on to appear in just 63 snaps in Year 1. And he's choosing to forego Year 2, leaving the team that has given him big bucks (and received nothing in return) in the lurch.
The NFLPA will zealously protect players who opt-out. But I can't imagine James' decision is going to land well with GM John Elway. We'll update this article when more information is known.
UPDATE: James has released a statement explaining his decision to opt-out and the team has since confirmed.