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Ja’Wuan James’ $10 million salary for 2021 in jeopardy after season-ending Achilles injury

Ja'Wuan James, Broncos

Denver Broncos offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James suffered a season-ending torn Achilles on Tuesday while working out away from the team facility, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Per Schefter, because James’ injury occurred during an off-site incident, the Broncos will no longer be obligated to pay him the $10 million he’s owed for the 2021 season. With the tackle out for the year, James may end up missing out on the money entirely and lose his roster spot.

It’s a tough break for the 28-year-old Ja’Wuan James, who signed a four-year, $51 million contract with the Broncos in 2019. The tackle was limited to three games in 2019 due to knee issues, then opted out of the 2020 campaign for COVID-related reasons. James spent his first five NFL seasons with the Miami Dolphins.

The Broncos are not particularly deep up front, and they neglected to take a tackle in the 2021 Draft. Garett Bolles will start at left tackle in Week 1, while Calvin Anderson is the best bet to slide in for James on the right side. Dalton Risner and Graham Glasgow are currently slotted at guard, while Lloyd Cushenberry III will return at center.

Who they’ll be protecting isn’t set in stone either. At the moment, the Broncos have incumbent starter Drew Lock and veteran Teddy Bridgewater listed as QB1 and QB2, respectively, on the depth chart. But should president John Elway swing a trade for disgruntled Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the Denver offensive line would suddenly become one of the most important and heavily-scrutinized units in football.

Either way, Denver will most likely explore the remaining free-agent market and trade wire for more protection.