Ja’Wuan James injury underscores importance of working out at team facility

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The Broncos privately were pleased that tackle Ja'Wuan James opted out in 2020, because it meant that they avoided his $9.85 million guaranteed salary. Although no team is pleased when a player is injured, the Broncos privately are pleased that James’ season-ending injury happened away from the team facility, because it allows them to again avoid the $9.85 million in guaranteed pay that tolled from 2020 to 2021.

That’s what most likely will happen. The labor deal gives teams the ability to not pay players who suffer injuries away from the facility. Given the lingering consternation between the league and the union over voluntary offseason workouts, teams will be more inclined than ever to not volunteer to pay a player who chooses not to volunteer to work out at team headquarters and then suffers an injury.

A separate problem for James flows from the very real possibility that the injury away from the facility voids the guarantee for good, allowing the Broncos to eventually cut James and to avoid forever the $9.85 million guaranteed salary.

Under the contract he signed in 2019, James also has $5 million in future salary guaranteed for injury only. That guarantee also potentially will void, due to the off-site injury.

Then comes the kicker, if the Broncos really want to play hardball with James. Given the language of the CBA and the standard player contract, they can recover the portion of his signing bonus applicable to the 2021 season. That’s $3 million that the Broncos could ask James to repay, based on a $12 million signing bonus spread over four total years.

The question of whether a player will work out on his own or at the team facility should be resolved on a case-by-case basis. The reality is that, when it comes to the dramatic financial differences between getting injured at work and getting injured away from work, most players would best be protected by always working out at the team facility.

9 responses to “Ja’Wuan James injury underscores importance of working out at team facility

  1. The Broncos should get every penny they can back from this guy. It would be different if he at least acted like he wanted to be there.

  2. He’s on the All-I-Never_Played_For-This-Team squad. Put him, Carl Nicks, and LeCharles Bentley on the first team offensive line.

  3. Worst free agent signing the Broncos have ever done. Absolute worst. He made almost $270K for every SNAP he played with the Broncos. He should be locked up next to Brock Osweiler for theft.

  4. I hope he has a full recovery. Seems like a super painful injury.
    at this point it’s best for the team and player to part ways. He was over payed, and the team doesn’t owe him anything at this point. That said, maybe cut him with the signing bonus considered an injury setlement and never look back. And considering he wasn’t injured on the job that’s a hell of a deal on principal, so he should take it and tuck his tail.

  5. They won’t go after the bonus money or they will have a problem attracting FA’s.

  6. Meanwhile, we’ll see players out at bars acting like idiots during covid

  7. I would feel terrible about this had JaWuan James actually played for Denver. They gave him a $51M, $27M guaranteed contract two years ago and he played a total of three quarters for Denver. He’s going to walk away with $17M for a few dozen snaps.

  8. The NFL has the worst labor agreement for players of any major sport. Florio is right, any player that works out on his own without written permission from his team, even if it is just a signed workout plan, is taking far too much risk to not work out at the team facility.

  9. 17 million dollars and he hasn’t even played one full game for the Broncos in 2 years. Even when he was medically cleared to play, he refused because apparently he wasn’t “emotionally ready.” So after that mess, what does he do the next year? He opts out of the entire 2020 season. Now going into his 3rd year without having played even 1 full game for the Broncos, he decides he won’t go to the training facility for OTA’s, and ends up tearing his Achilles on his own time, and now will miss the entire season. Three full years/seasons without playing so much as 1 full game! And some people think the Broncos are going to give him another 10 million dollars, just because…! Lmao… Think Again!

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