Late Friday, the Denver Broncos decided to release offensive tackle Ja'Wuan James, weeks after he tore his Achilles tendon while working out away from team facilities.
Because his injury happened away from Dove Valley, James was placed on the non-football injury list, and the Broncos had the option to void his $10M base salary for 2021. That's exactly what the Broncos decided to do when they released him.
Prior to his official release, though, James had a few words for the NFL Players Association, which advised players not to attend voluntary workouts at team facilities, in hopes that the NFL would renegotiate the offseason workout schedule.
James' words came in response to this from Troy Renck about not only James' situation, but wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton, who reportedly tore his ACL while working out away from team facilities.
The response from James was directed at the NFLPA.
Say what you want about James -- or Hamilton, for that matter -- but the former Broncos right tackle isn't wrong.
The NFLPA chose to make the offseason workout program an issue, after last season's activities mostly took place away from team facilities because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some players wanted to make this permanent.
Thus, the NFLPA advised players to skip voluntary workouts, and in turn, a number of teams announced they would do so, the Denver Broncos players among them.
Now comes the injuries to both James and Hamilton. Regardless of what you think about them as players, their contracts or contributions, it was the NFLPA who put not just both at risk, but every NFL player at risk, with their push to renegotiate workouts.
Had the NFLPA offered some protection to players, such as a direct payment or insurance that protects players if they are injured away from team facilities, it might have given players peace of mind.
Instead, the NFLPA simply pushed forward with a negotiating tactic, and one that focuses on a rather trivial aspect of the collective bargaining agreement.
There's no evidence that players working out at team facilities are at greater risk from injury than they are working out away from facilities. It's hard to figure out what the NFLPA thinks it will gain with this tactic.
Again, say what you want about James, Hamilton, or any other player, but the NFLPA's tactic put just about every Denver Broncos player -- and just about every other NFL player, for that matter -- at risk.
And that tactic has come back to bite the NFLPA in a big way.
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