Broncos RT Ja'Wuan James Opts Out of 2020 Season Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistAugust 3, 2020

Denver Broncos offensive tackle Ja'Wuan James (70) takes the field during an NFL preseason football game between the Denver Broncos and the San Francisco 49ers, Monday, Aug. 19, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

Denver Broncos offensive tackle Ja'Wuan James will opt out of the 2020 season amid the coronavirus pandemic:

Ja'Wuan James @JawuanJames70

take care of you & yours https://t.co/tgA5LwkrcM

Mike Klis of 9News first reported the news Monday as the lineman joins defensive tackle Kyle Peko as the first Broncos players to sit out for the year.

James signed a four-year, $51 million deal with Denver in 2019, but he played only three games in his first season with the team. Knee problems held him to just 63 snaps, per Pro Football Reference, while his appearances were spread across Week 1, Week 8 and Week 14.

He later explained what went wrong with his knee, via Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic:

"I tore some ligaments in my knee the first game of the season. Was working back to get it healed, came back for that Colts game and ended up reinjuring it. I re-tore all the scar tissue that was healing and then ended up tearing part of my meniscus. They said it wouldn't be that serious but when I was out there, even at practice, trying to come back, my knee was buckling on me. It was just weak because the ligaments weren't strong."

James referred to a "false narrative" surrounding his injury in Monday's announcement, but an extra year off should allow him to fully heal and be 100 percent going into 2021.

The 2014 first-round pick has been effective when on the field, starting all 65 games he has played with Denver and the Miami Dolphins. Injuries have consistently been an issue, however, as he's missed 31 of 96 possible regular-season games since entering the league.

The Broncos will have to play without him once again, which could be even tougher with Elijah Wilkinson on the physically unable to perform list with a foot injury. Jake Rodgers and Calvin Anderson could be the next men up at right tackle.