Ja'Wuan James Releases Statement on why he Opted Out of 2020 Season

Chad Jensen

On Monday, offensive tackle Ja'Wuan James notified the Denver Broncos that he has decided to opt-out of the 2020 season, as is his right under the newly negotiated NFL CBA amendments. The news sent shockwaves through the Mile High City as fans, media, and the team alike tried to process and understand James' decision. 

Not long after the news broke, James posted a statement on Twitter where he provided the rationale for his decision to opt-out. 

"After continuous conversation with my family over the past couple weeks about the NFL figuring out the plan for the 2020 season, I've decided to opt out. It is tough, but the right decision. There's just too much unknown about this virus and about plans handling it going forward. My wife and I were blessed with our newborn son May 22 and he's now my top priority. Although I worked all offseason and invested in my body to bounce back and have a great year on the field, it's just not worth risking the health of my loved ones. I've seen this virus already hospitalized one of my family members and hope to not have that happen again. We can't live in fear or just confine ourselves just to our homes but we all have to make the right conscious choices and navigate through day to day life to protect our neighbors. 

"To my teammates I reached out to before making this decision, I appreciate your input and acknowledgment that the man comes first before the football player. All my brothers around the league, I pray for you and your families' safety throughout the season and rest of the pandemic. To the Denver Community, these first two years weren't what I expected them to be when arriving here. I know you don't know me well and a false narrative was painted of me last year due to comments made about my injury, but I am invested in this city and my team. I look forward to the future we have here, but in that same breath, I'm even more invested in my family. Everyone make sure to stay positive through these crazy times and enjoy your loved ones. I hope 2021 will be a better year for all of us. Take care of yourselves, because ultimately, health is wealth." 

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The "false narrative" James is speaking to centers around the public messaging the Broncos took last year after he went down with a nagging knee injury in Week 1. He would go on to appear in just three games with 63 total snaps. 

This, while taking home a combined $17 million between his signing bonus and guaranteed base salary. James claims he tore part of his meniscus and that the team pushed him to return too soon. He appeared in Week 1, going down about 10 snaps in, which was followed by nearly two months' worth of absence when he reappeared on the road in Week 8. Then, in Week 14, he played again for the first half only, because he claims his knee was buckling on him. 

There are two sides to every story and the truth is usually somewhere in the middle. Whatever the truth is on last year's developments, the greater reality is that James developed a reputation for being 'soft' long before signing with the Broncos. 

The Miami Dolphins purportedly were "laughing" at the Broncos for giving him a then-record $52M contract, which included $32M fully guaranteed. Most fans, suffice to say, now 18 months into the James experiment, understand why the Dolphins yucked it up when the Broncos signed him. 

James bailed on the 2020 season. He has a newborn son. It's his prerogative. But his teammates, and fellow Americans, who will continue to put their head down and go to work each day, despite the coronavirus pandemic, might find it difficult to sympathize with him. 

For what it's worth, the Broncos have been lauded for their Infectious Disease Emergency Response plan, which is painstaking and comprehensive. It's impossible to 100 percent eliminate any and all risk to exposure when anyone steps outside their front door but the Broncos have done everything within their power to mitigate those risks down to about as low as they can get. 

James' reputation for being soft will continue to hound him. Half of his statement was posturing against that reputation and "false narrative" as he calls it (remember, there are two sides to the story). The Broncos will move on with Elijah Wilkinson penciled in as the starting right tackle but I can't help but wonder what the future holds for James in Denver because I can't imagine that the team brass, after the tens of millions of dollars the Broncos have paid James, is going to take this well behind closed doors. 

Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen and @MileHighHudde.

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Comments (5)
No. 1-5
Mc Dad
Mc Dad

Please not wilkinson at RT. Anyone but him. Put risner at RT and muti at LG like franchise mode idc pls


Sorry but no Bronco fans care about his false statement you covered all his actions in your article the bottom line is he doesn’t like playing football but loves the financial security that came with it. He has never given his all to any team he played on always complaining about a nagging injury finding an excuse to not work or be on the field. Miami as bad as they are knew what James was about now the Broncos do as well he is a guy who quits on his team and his team mates and can’t be trusted at all. My hope is the Broncos just say enough is enough and don’t bring him back hopefully Munchak being the great coach he is can find one of these lesser known guys on the roster and make a starter out of them like he consistently did in Pittsburgh and we never have to count on Mr Quitter Juwann James again!


This was shock to hear as Bronco fans everywhere were really hoping for an improved O line this year and a decent season from James included in that. Now that is in considerable doubt. Wilkerson does not seem to be the answer in any sustainable way. I would hope someone might still be available in FA or trade as the Broncos are now officially in trouble at this spot.


Very difficult to not be disappointed in him and what he has done to his teammates, the organization, and the fans. I hope we can find an answer at right tackle as it’s our one missing piece. What a jerk.


I am An essential worker who has worked everyday since Covid as started I was never given an option too opt out for any reason this guy is a quitter and a bad signing mr. Elway please cut loses and cut this clown....