Ja'Wuan James, Broncos Agree to 4-Year Contract Worth Reported $52 Million

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 13, 2019

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 23: Ja'Wuan James #70 of the Miami Dolphins in action during the game against the Oakland Raiders at Hard Rock Stadium on September 23, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Mark Brown/Getty Images

Veteran right tackle Ja'Wuan James agreed to terms on a four-year, $52 million deal with the Denver Broncos, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Schefter noted the contract includes $32 million in guarantees.

James was limited to eight games in 2017 after suffering a season-ending hamstring injury. The Miami Dolphins had already picked up his fifth-year option for the 2018 season, but the Miami Herald's Armando Salguero reported in December 2017 that Miami was potentially rescinding the option.

Ultimately, the Dolphins decided to keep James. According to Denver7's Troy Renck, the Denver Broncos "were close on a deal" to acquire the 2014 first-round pick.

James proceeded to have a solid 2018 campaign and positioned himself as one of the best tackles on the free-agent market.

In particular, he showed off his athleticism when the Dolphins used him as a pulling blocker on running plays to the left side. Generally, the role is reserved for an offensive guard, but James possesses the speed and agility to make it work.

Dolphins offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains discussed the strategy, per the Sun Sentinel's Omar Kelly:

"I wouldn't say it's common because a lot of those [tackles], they're really long and they don't have lower-body flexibility, and that's one attribute that Ja'Wuan definitely has. He's a good lower-body athlete. He can bend. He can move. We felt that it was advantageous that week to pull, and he played really well overall and did a good job for us."

In January, Pro Football Focus' Michael Renner included James among the "most notable" free agents on the offensive side of the ball:

"James is going to be an intriguing free agent option for two big reasons. 1. Tackles are coveted heavily in free agency. 2. He's a former first-rounder with an upward trajectory to his career. James allowed all of 26 pressures this past season, the lowest total of his career. At not even 27 years old yet, James is in line for a big deal."

To some extent, James' success was a double-edged sword for Miami when it came to his impending free agency. The better he played, the more his value would climb, and that presented a problem for the cash-strapped Dolphins.

As important as James was for Miami's offensive line, Grier had to decide whether the cost of his contract was worth eating up a significant amount of the team's available salary cap space. One could argue the team is better off funneling those resources elsewhere on its roster.

The Dolphins' loss is Denver's gain as James should have an immediate impact on the Broncos offensive line.