Right tackle Ja’Wuan James is prepared for a record-breaking payday once the NFL free agency signing period begins today. The Denver Broncos will strengthen their offensive line by signing James to a four-year deal, stealing him away from the Miami Dolphins.
Ja’Wuan James is set to sign a massive contract with the Denver Broncos once NFL free agency officially begins. They have agreed to a four-year, $52 million deal with $32 million guaranteed according to Ian Rapoport. James will become the highest paid right tackle in the National Football League, at $13 million per year average. Philadelphia Eagles OT Lane Johnson previously held that title at $11 million per year.
Why James is getting a big deal from the Broncos
James has been a quality player for the Dolphins since being drafted in 2014. As a result of recent NFL evolution, the value of right tackles is catching up to left tackles. The massive contract that left tackle Trent Brown received from the Oakland Raiders in free agency was one reason Denver had to pay so much for James. Brown is set to get a four-year, $66 million contract with $36.75 million guaranteed.
Miami was attempting to keep James, which is another reason his price was so high for the Broncos. There is no state income tax in Florida, which means players make more of the money on their contracts. The Broncos were forced to pay more to get him to leave Davie, Florida because James has called it home for five years and the tackle market exploded.
What can James bring to the Broncos?
James has been a “good, not great” player during his tenure in Miami according to Pro Football Focus. He has had an above average grade in both pass-blocking and run-blocking in the last three years. James has been inconsistent at times but is capable of dominant games against great pass-rushers. He effectively shut down Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa in a game against the Los Angeles Chargers in 2017. Of course, James will now face this scary pass-rushing duo twice a year.
The Broncos offensive line was among the best in 2018. In fact, Football Outsiders rated the unit as the 6th best in the NFL. But Jared Veldheer, Denver’s 2018 right tackle, is an unrestricted free agent. The Broncos clearly prioritized upgrading the right tackle position in free agency.
What does signing James mean for the Broncos?
Offensive tackle was one of the most significant needs for the team heading into the offseason. But now the Broncos can focus on other needs in the NFL Draft. Denver has pick 10 and with needs at quarterback, defensive line, linebacker, and wide receiver. The team has been heavily linked to Missouri QB Drew Lock this offseason and signing James to protect him would be smart. Even if the team starts Joe Flacco next year, James will be an essential piece for the offense heading into the future.