Tackle James Files Grievance Against Broncos, Signs with Ravens

Aug 22, 2015; Charlotte, NC, USA; Denver Broncos tackle Ja’Wuan James (70) stands on the sidelines during the second half against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. The Panthers defeated the Dolphins 31-30. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Monday that offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James signed a 2-year contract with the Baltimore Ravens worth up to $9 million, pending a physical. His name has been in the news lately because he filed a grievance against his former team, the Denver Broncos, worth $15 million.

Last season, James opted out due to concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic, and during training camp this year he tore his Achilles tendon. The reason why the grievance had originally been filed is that the Achilles injury he sustained was in a workout away from the facility in May, and the former Tennessee Volunteer and Miami Dolphin was guaranteed $10 million for the upcoming campaign, but because the injury did not happen at Broncos’ training camp, it was designated as a non-football injury, meaning that the team was not required to pay his salary, and the franchise ultimately released him.

Details of the Grievance

In his grievance, which was first broken by Pro Football Talk, James is wanting his original salary of $10 million from this season and $5 million of salary for 2022, and he claims that he was working out away from the facility under guidance from the team, as a source confirmed to ESPN.

At the moment, the NFL Players Association is not involved with the tackle’s grievance. James filed the claim on his own with attorney Mark Geragos. According to CBS Sports, this case will be handled according to the terms of the newly-signed collective bargaining agreement, and 40 percent, or $6 million, will be held against the Broncos’ salary cap until it is resolved.

Baltimore Playing the Long Game

As for the deal with the Ravens, the physical exam before the contract is made official will not include his current injury and no issues are expected, according to outside sources. James’s contract will include $500,000 in guaranteed money for 2021 as he goes through rehabilitation on his Achilles, and hopes to return in 2022 when he is due for a salary worth more than $8 million.

And an injury like this contributes to an ongoing discussion between the NFL and their Players Association over what qualifies for the non-football injury designation. The day after James tore his Achilles, he was specifically named in a memo from the NFL’s management council to team executives and head coaches. In that memo, it was outlined under the “Non-Football Injuries” designation that teams would have “no contractual obligation” to play players like him who were injured away from the team facilities. The Players’ Association responded a couple of days later via email saying that “It was gutless to use a player’s serious injury as a scare tactic to get you to come running back to these workouts.”

James Injury History

However, this is not the first occurrence that James has been forced to miss time due to injury with Denver. After he signed a four-year, $51 million contract with the Broncos in 2019, he only played 63 snaps in three games due to a torn meniscus and a torn MCL, both injuries occurring in separate games over the course of that season.

While injuries have plagued the career of Ja’Wuan James, if he can stay healthy and return in 2022, Baltimore will have a solid offensive line to protect Lamar Jackson in the backfield.