Ja'Wuan James filed a $15 million grievance against the Denver Broncos Monday, saying the torn Achilles he suffered in May does not allow the team to use a "non-football injury" designation.
Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk obtained a copy of the grievance:
"'Claimant was not working out on his own,' the grievance says. 'Claimant was working out as expressly and/or impliedly authorized and/or instructed by Respondent's agents, including but not limited to the instructions and/or direction of the coach of Respondent and/or other agents of Respondent. Claimant was working out with other players on the team at the facility and mentoring younger players as requested and/or expressly and/or impliedly authorized by Respondent through its agent and/or agents.'"
James is seeking his $10 million salary for 2021 and $5 million for 2022 in the complaint. The grievance will seek to prove James was working out under the guidance of the team despite not being at the facility. Florio noted that James may seek to demonstrate the Broncos facility did not meet the standards of COVID-19 safety in Colorado as well.
Perhaps more concerning for the NFL, the grievance strongly hints the league and the Broncos were in cahoots regarding his status. The filing cites a memo sent to teams May 5 following James' injury that said any injuries when "a player is working out 'on his own' in a location other than an NFL facility are considered 'non-football injuries' and are outside the scope of typical skill, injury and cap guarantee."
James may argue that the Broncos released him amid collusion with the NFL, which would double his potential compensation.
The NFLPA led widespread boycotts of voluntary offseason workouts over its desire to lessen the wear and tear on players' bodies.
James reportedly signed a two-year contract worth $9 million with the Baltimore Ravens on Monday, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. Per Schefter, James will have to pass a physical, but it won't include the Achilles injury, and there are "no issues expected."