Ja'Wuan James

AFC East Notes: Dolphins, Tannehill, Parker, Bills, Ivory, Jets, Maccagnan, Bowles

The Dolphins will have a lot of tough decisions to make this offseason, including what to do with Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill is set to have a cap hit of over $26MM in 2019, hasn’t been able to stay healthy, and hasn’t been great on the field even when he is. Deciding Tannehill’s fate “clearly tops” the list of Miami’s priorities for the offseason, according to Adam Beasley of The Miami Herald, who writes “Tannehill would need to be exceptional when he returns from his shoulder injury” for the Dolphins to bring him back at that salary next year.

Tannehill missed the end of the 2016 season with a torn ACL, then missed all of the 2017 season when he re-tore the ACL. This year, Tannehill started the first five games, then went down with a mysterious shoulder injury. He’s been sidelined for four games, and it’s not clear when he’s coming back. It’s still very early, but at this point it would be a surprise if Tannehill is brought back at his current cap number. For what it’s worth, Beasley writes that the Dolphins like Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • Speaking of decisions the Dolphins have to make, they’ll also have to decide the fate of receiver DeVante Parker and right tackle Ja’Wuan James this offseason, according to Beasley. Parker is owed $9.4MM next year, and Beasley writes that keeping him “seems unlikely now, but if he strings together several games like the one last Thursday in Houston (six catches, 134 yards), it becomes a strong consideration.” James will be a free agent after this season, and Beasley writes that “unless he’s great the final eight games, the Dolphins again figure to explore outside options” this March.
  • The Bills’ offense has already been an injured mess this year, and they got even more bad news today. Running back Chris Ivory “was taken to Erie County Medical Center, a level 1 trauma center, for evaluations on his left shoulder”, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). It’s unclear the exact nature of the injury, but it seems clear Ivory will miss some time, and he’s been playing a fairly big role in the offense lately.
  • Jets GM Mike Maccagnan “was noticeably less effusive” when talking about Todd Bowles in his ‘state of the team’ press availability than he was in last year’s availability, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. Cimini thinks that Maccagnan “is safe, no matter what” and is trying to separate himself from Bowles and from the narrative that the two are joined at the hip, in case Bowles needs to be fired. Bowles is on a very hot seat, and it wouldn’t be surprising if a change is made soon with the Jets suffering another loss today.

Dolphins Nixed James-For-Anderson Trade?

The Dolphins dangled right tackle Ja’Wuan James in trades before pulling back and seeing his fifth-year option vest. During one of those in discussions, the Broncos reportedly offered a familiar name to Dolphins brass.

Troy Renck of Denver7 reports the Broncos and Dolphins had a verbal agreement on a C.J. Anderson-for-James trade, but Miami nixed the deal. This would be an interesting exchange considering the Dolphins designed Anderson’s contract by creating a four-year, $18MM offer sheet the Broncos matched in 2016. Miami was reportedly interested in Anderson if Denver made him a free agent.

Two years and no guaranteed money remain on Anderson’s deal, and the sixth-year player has manageable $4.5MM cap numbers the next two seasons. Adam Gase and Eric Studesville coached Anderson in Denver, with Studesville now Miami’s running backs coach after a long run with the Broncos. Denver determined in March it wasn’t going to release its longtime starter, but it may still be open for business on an Anderson deal. Devontae Booker and De’Angelo Henderson are the Broncos’ other backs.

The Broncos landed another right tackle via trade when they acquired Jared Veldheer from the Cardinals for a sixth-round pick. As of now, Veldheer has one year and $6.9MM left on his deal. James will make $9.341MM on the Year 5 option this season and has fared much better than Veldheer at right tackle, although each has struggled with injuries in recent years.

James, 25, has started for four seasons with the Dolphins, while the Broncos have had a different right tackle starter in Week 1 in each of the past five seasons. Veldheer may well extend that streak to six. The Dolphins moved to add Frank Gore at a cheaper rate — $1.1MM — and he will join Kenyan Drake in their backfield.

The Broncos’ primary ball-carrier since the 2014 season, Anderson is coming off his first 1,000-yard campaign. The 26-year-old running back successfully bounced back from a meniscus tear by playing 16 games last season. Renck writes a trade could still occur and wonders if the Broncos would augment their backfield through the draft in that event. Denver brought San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny in for a visit last week.

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Dolphins Retain Ja’Wuan James

Ja’Wuan James is staying put. As the right tackle teased on his Instagram account, he’ll remain with the Dolphins. There won’t be any renegotiation of his deal, as he’ll remain under contract for $9.3MM in 2018, per Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald (on Twitter).

The Dolphins were shopping their longtime right tackle this week, presumably to see if a market developed prior to James’ fifth-year option becoming fully guaranteed on Wednesday. The sides were discussing a new deal on Monday, but James had enough leverage to hold his ground.

James’ new deal gives him an opportunity to stay in sunny Miami and build on what was arguably the best season of his career to date, even though it was shortened by injury.

For his eight games, James graded as the league’s 17th-ranked offensive tackle last season, per Pro Football Focus. However, the former first-round pick has seen injuries cut two of his seasons short. He has yet to prove he can be a consistent, healthy option in Miami, likely leading to the trade efforts.

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Dolphins To Keep Ja’Wuan James?

Ja’Wuan James was rumored to be on the block, but it sounds like the Dolphins are intent on keeping him. The Broncos called the Dolphins to inquire the right tackle but were informed that he will be staying put, a source tells Mike Klis of 9News (on Twitter). 

On Monday, we heard that the Dolphins were working with James on a new contract, which is consistent with the latest word on him. The former first-round pick has been mentioned as both a trade and release candidate given his bloated cap charge, but it seems more likely that he’ll remain with the team under a lesser deal.

Given the lack of quality tackles on the open market, James has some leverage in talks. Nate Solder and Justin Pugh are the only clear-cut starters available, though Austin Howard could be added to that group now that his option has been declined by the Ravens.

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Dolphins, Ja’Wuan James Discussing Deal

The Dolphins are discussing a new deal with offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James, who is currently scheduled to play the 2018 campaign under his fifth-year option at a cost of $9.341MM, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald.

Miami clearly isn’t interested in retaining James at his current price, as the former first-round pick has been mentioned as both a a trade and release candidate this offseason. Instead, the Dolphins are offering a James a new deal — whether it’s an extension or just a pay cut is unclear — that would reduce his cap charge in 2018. If James doesn’t accept the proposal, he’s expected to be released, per Salguero.

Hitting the open market wouldn’t necessarily be the worst outcome for James, who was selected in the first round of the 2014 draft. The 2018 free agent tackle class is extremely weak, with Nate Solder and Justin Pugh appearing to be the only clear-cut starters. Thus, James must weigh the Dolphins’ offer against any prospective contracts he thinks he could land as an unrestricted free agent.

James, 25, graded as the league’s No. 17 offensive tackle last season, per Pro Football Focus, which assigned James the highest marks of his career. However, James only appeared in eight games in 2017 thanks to a groin injury, the second campaign of his career in which he played in eight contests or fewer.

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Tackle Notes: James, Bills, Eagles, Thomas

The Dolphins may be trying to see if they can unload Ja’Wuan James prior to his fifth-year option becoming guaranteed. A cut candidate, James is set to make $9.34MM on an as-of-now guaranteed-against-injury fifth-year option — which becomes fully guaranteed at 3pm CT Wednesday. Omar Kelly of the Orlando Sentinel reports the Dolphins are shopping the fifth-year right tackle, with the goal appearing to be moving him before free agency and the option vesting. While that is a high salary for a player who hasn’t been especially consistent, and has been injury-prone, plenty of teams are in need of tackle help. Additionally, the Dolphins are planning to re-sign swing tackle Sam Young, Kelly reports. Young, who will turn 31 in June, started six games for Miami last season. He’s a much cheaper option than James, albeit one with a lower ceiling.

Here’s the latest from the tackle market, courtesy of CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora:

  • On that front, the Bills are still open to trading Cordy Glenn, per JLC, but the team is not going all-out to unload him. Buffalo has seen Glenn suddenly become a perpetual injury risk after he’d been a durable player before his extension, and the team drafted Dion Dawkins in the second round last year. Glenn has a $6.5MM roster bonus due on March 18 and has a lofty $14.45MM cap number in 2018.
  • Joe Thomas said the Browns‘ moves over the weekend won’t impact his decision to return for a 12th season, but the now-successful podcaster/future Hall of Fame tackle may be leaning toward returning. La Canfora notes the consensus around the league is Thomas will be back with the Browns in 2018. Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal notes Thomas’ decision will likely be known early this week.
  • Jason Peters plans to play in 2018, and Doug Pederson said he expects the former All-Pro left tackle to be back with the Eagles next season. JLC adds the team has made “no attempts” to trade the 36-year-old blocker thus far this offseason. Peters has a $10.6MM cap number this coming season with Philadelphia, which did not have his services for much of its first Super Bowl season. The Eagles, though, are going to need to make some decisions soon. They remain over the cap with free agency three days away.

AFC Notes: Dolphins, Bortles, Ravens, Chiefs

The Dolphins are “strongly” considering releasing offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James instead of paying his $9.341MM base salary in 2018, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. James, a former first-round pick, is under contract next season thanks to his fifth-year option, but given that his salary is non-guaranteed, Miami can get out of the deal with no penalty. While the Dolphins could speculatively be interested in retaining James at a reduced price, the 25-year-old has little incentive to accept a pay cut, as he’d immediately become one of the best tackles on the open market if he were to be released. Indeed, the top end of an extremely weak free agent tackle class includes Nate Solder, Justin Pugh, Cameron Fleming, and Chris Hubbard, so James would surely draw interest.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • Blake Bortles‘ new three-year deal with the Jaguars contains offset language, tweets Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com (Twitter link). Jacksonville inked Bortles to a $54MM extension over the weekend that includes a partially guaranteed ($6.5MM of $16MM) base salary in 2019. If the former first-round pick flops during the upcoming campaign, the Jaguars could release him next spring and still create $4.5MM worth of cap space. That figure could be even greater thanks to offset language, however, as the Jaguars would be off the hook for whatever salary Bortles hypothetically earns with his next club.
  • The Ravens and tight end-turned-offensive lineman Crockett Gillmore have mutual interest in new contract, reports Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. Reports last week indicated Gillmore would transition to offensive line, and he’s apparently begun the change by packing on “considerable bulk” to aid the move. Baltimore, understandably, wants a “better gauge” of Gillmore’s physical condition, not solely due to his upcoming position switch, but because he missed the entire 2017 with a knee injury. Gillmore, 26, was always considered an outstanding blocking tight end while playing in the 250-pound range.
  • Cornerback David Amerson inked a one-year deal with the Chiefs earlier this month, and while Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star previously reported the pact has a base value of $2.25MM, Adam Caplan of SiriusXM (Twitter link) has now provided the contract’s specifics. Amerson, 26, receives a $500K signing bonus, a $1MM base salary, $625K in per-game roster bonuses, and a $125K workout bonus. The deal also contains unknown incentives which, as Paylor indicated, could bring the total value of the agreement to $6MM.
  • In desperate need of offensive line depth, the Bengals recently signed ex-Giants tackle Bobby Hart, but his contract details show that he’s not a lock for Cincinnati’s roster, as Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports (Facebook link). Hart got a $50K signing bonus and will collect another $200K bonus if he’s on the Bengals’ Week 1 roster. All told, Hart will be an easy cut for Cincinnati if he doesn’t prove his worth during the summer.

Dolphins To Cut Lawrence Timmons, Julius Thomas

The Dolphins are planning to cut linebacker Lawrence Timmons and tight end Julius Thomas prior to the beginning of the new league year on March 14 to help relieve cap issues, per Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. Salguero also speculates that the team may look to shed the fifth-year option for offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James, making him a free agent.

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In total, the move would save the Dolphins $21MM and would open up around $11MM in cap space. As it stands without the cuts, the Dolphins are projected to be $7MM-$8MM over a projected $177MM salary cap, with 55 players under contract.

By cutting Thomas, the Dolphins would save $6.6MM in cap room and would save $5,5 MM by cutting Timmons. If they don’t pick up the option on James, that would save them $9.34MM. Salguero points out that $11MM in cap space may not be enough to make a major splash in free agency this offseason, considering what sources described to him as a shallow free agent pool that could lead to prices being driven up for top-level talent.

Timmons signed a two-year, $12MM with the Dolphins last offseason. He appeared in 14 games (13 starts) and recorded 58 tackles, his lowest total since 2009. Thomas ended his first season with the Dolphins on injured reserve. The two-time Pro Bowler was set to enter the second season of a two-year, $12MM deal. James made eight starts at right tackle last season and has made 47 starts through the first four years of his career.

The Dolphins may be in the market for an outside linebacker, with Koa Misi also due to hit free agency. Backup tight end Anthony Fasano is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason as well.

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Dolphins To Place RT Ja’Wuan James On IR

The Dolphins will be without a key member of their offensive line for the rest of the season. According to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald (via Twitter), the team has placed right tackle Ja’Wuan James on the injured reserve. Head coach Adam Gase told reporters yesterday that James could be shelved due to a hamstring injury. The Dolphins have activated safety T.J. McDonald off the reserve/suspended list to take his spot on the roster.

Ja'Wuan James (Vertical)James, a 2014 first-round pick out of Tennessee, started all eight games this season. Pro Football Focus was particularly fond of his performance in 2017, ranking him 10th among 78 eligible tackle candidates. The lineman has been a mainstay on the Dolphins over the past four years, having started all 16 games in 2014 and 2016 (he missed nine games in 2015 due to a toe injury). The Dolphins had picked up James’ fifth-year option back in May, which is only guaranteed for injury. In other words, the lineman would have to pass a physical if the team wanted out of the $9.341MM obligation.

With only around $1MM in cap space, the Dolphins will be hard pressed to add reinforcement via free agency. Jesse Davis, who previously started a pair of games at offensive guard, will fill in for James at right tackle. James will join Anthony Steen and Eric Smith on the injured reserve, although Ted Larsen is expected to return from his biceps injury.

Shortly after signing a one-year deal with the Dolphins, McDonald was suspended eight games by the NFL. Following an impressive preseason, the 26-year-old ultimately signed a four-year extension with the organization. McDonald started 16 games for the Rams last season, compiling 64 tackles and six passes defended. He’ll look to displace Reshad Jones or Michael Thomas atop the depth chart.

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Ja’Wuan James Facing Season-Ending Injury?

Ja’Wuan James won’t play in the Dolphins’ Week 10 game against the Panthers on Monday night, and it’s possible the right tackle will miss the rest of the season.

Adam Gase said Friday (via Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald) the fourth-year blocker could miss the rest of the season due to a hamstring injury. Ian Rapoport (Twitter link) said James is out indefinitely. Salguero notes the Dolphins are seeking out opinions from multiple doctors.

James has played in each of Miami’s eight games, and Gase described his play as being good in some of them. This injury is significant because of James’ contract status. The 2014 first-round pick has a fifth-year option of $9.341MM, but the Dolphins can cut bait on that amount before the start of the 2018 league year.

These options are guaranteed for injury only, so James would have to pass a physical for the team to jettison him free of charge. With that deadline nearly five months away, it would stand to reason James could recover from a hamstring malady by decision time.

Of course, the Dolphins don’t have a next-in-line right tackle to potentially replace James, and UFA solutions aren’t cheap. Dolphins OC Clyde Christensen said (via the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson) the cap has limited the Dolphins’ ability to bring in a reliable backup to James; Miami holds barely $1MM in cap room. Former UDFA Jesse Davis will make his first start at right tackle on Monday. Davis has started two games at guard but will move to take James’ spot after Ted Larsen returned off IR.

James started 16 games in both 2014 and ’16 but played in only seven in 2015. A toe injury ended James’ sophomore NFL season.

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