This will be a massive deal, with Schefter adding the five-year Dolphins blocker will become the NFL’s highest-paid right tackle. James will receive a four-year, $52MM deal, with $32MM of that being guaranteed. This comes barely an hour after the Broncos authorized a three-year, $33MM deal for Kareem Jackson.
Denver’s big move figures to stop its streak of one-and-done right tackle starters. Since Orlando Franklin was moved to guard before the 2014 season, the Broncos have used a different primary right tackle each year. This will mark the sixth straight season the Broncos will have a new Week 1 right tackle, but James has been a target for a while.
The Broncos had a trade in place to acquire James from the Dolphins, who would have gotten C.J. Anderson in the 2018 proposal, but Miami nixed the move and kept James as its right tackle starter. Although the Dolphins are taking a rebuilding approach this offseason, Chris Grier said at the Combine they wanted to retain James.
This represents a major markup at the right tackle position, with Lane Johnson previously being the only eight-figure-per-year player here. James’ $13MM-AAV deal will easily usurp the Eagles stalwart’s status ($11.25MM per year) at this spot.
Pro Football Focus has measured James, a 2014 first-round pick, as an above-average tackle. He graded as a top-35 tackle last season. The former Tennessee Volunteer, though, has encountered injury troubles. He missed eight games in 2017 and nine in 2015. Other than that, the 26-year-old blocker was Miami’s starter since Week 1 of his rookie year.
Denver pivoted from Franklin to Chris Clark to Ty Sambrailo to Michael Schofield to Donald Stephenson to Menelik Watson to Jared Veldheer. That succession will stop with James, with this contract tethering him to the Broncos for years.
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