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Sport: Broncos release injured right tackle Ja’Wuan James

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a close up of a helmet: Denver had previously placed James on its reserve/NFI list, laying the groundwork for Friday’s move. © Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire Denver had previously placed James on its reserve/NFI list, laying the groundwork for Friday’s move.

Ja’Wuan James revealed Friday he underwent surgery to repair his torn Achilles tendon (Twitter link). He is also now a free agent. The Broncos released the veteran tackle late this afternoon, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.

This will be a post-June 1 cut, Mike Klis of 9News tweets. The transaction will allow the Broncos to spread out the dead-money hit caused by James’ signing bonus. What may well become a contentious matter, however: James’ $10.58 million base salary. James suffering the injury while working out away from the Broncos’ facility leaves him vulnerable on this front.

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The Broncos will likely move to void that $10.58 million figure, Klis adds (on Twitter). This will likely precede an NFLPA grievance, although that is not certain. Following fellow Bronco DaeSean Hamilton‘s offsite ACL tear Friday, James tweeted the NFLPA needs to have players’ backs after advising them to boycott voluntary offseason workouts. This figures to set off a bigger-picture issue, with Hamilton’s 2021 salary — worth more than $2 million — now in jeopardy. Both would have been protected had they been training at the Broncos’ facility, which the NFL reiterated in a memo following James’ injury.

Denver had previously placed James on its reserve/NFI list, laying the groundwork for Friday’s move. The remaining $9 million in prorated signing bonus money will be due, although the Broncos might go after the 2021 prorated amount ($3 million). That is not certain, however. The post-June 1 move would mean the Broncos will be docked less than $5 million in dead-money charges. That number would have been considerably higher had James, whose salary was guaranteed for injury (an onsite injury, that is), opted to attend the Broncos' voluntary workouts.

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James’ injury will mean the Broncos’ run of different Week 1 right tackle starters will reach nine. Denver has moved on and is set to hold a Bobby MassieCameron Fleming competition come training camp. Both veterans signed earlier this week. Each worked as a starter last season, Massie for the Bears and Fleming with the Giants. Signed to a four-year, $51 million deal in 2019, James was ticketed to be the Broncos’ long-term starter. But knee injuries in 2019 limited him to 63 snaps. Because of his 2020 opt-out and this Achilles development, the 29-year-old lineman’s Denver career will be capped at 63 snaps.

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