Ja’Wuan James

Ravens’ Ja’Wuan James Will Not Play In 2021

As expected, the Ravens will not be seeing any action this year from of one of their offseason acquisitions. Right tackle Ja’Wuan James was not added to the team’s 53-man roster, ending his 21-day window to be activated, per ESPN’s Field Yates (via Twitter). The news confirms that his season is over. 

While it was never truly expected that James would be able to recover from a torn Achilles in time to suit up this year, the potential existed when he started practising on December 8th. The 29-year-old signed a two-year, $9MM deal with Baltimore in June in an attempt to add experienced depth at the tackle position after trading away Orlando Brown Jr. 

Without James – and, due to another season-ending surgery performed on starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley in October – veteran Alejandro Villanueva has shifted to his more familiar position at left tackle. That has left the Ravens with a rotation of Patrick Mekari and Tyre Phillips to man the opposite tackle spot, as they have each been in and out of the lineup with injuries.

The Ravens will carry on with their current offensive line as they try to end a four-game losing streak and remain in playoff contention against the Rams in Week 17.

 

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/8/21

Today’s minor moves:

Baltimore Ravens

Cincinnati Bengals

  • Designated for return: G D’Ante Smith, CB Trae Waynes

Denver Broncos

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Washington Football Team

Ravens’ Ja’Wuan James Returns To Practice

Despite tearing an Achilles’ tendon in May, Ja’Wuan James has a path to move onto the Ravens’ active roster. The veteran tackle will practice Wednesday.

The Ravens stashed James on their reserve/non-football injury list ahead of Week 1 but hoped he could return to work at some point late in the season. Although it is not certain the former first-round pick will play for his new team this season, the Ravens will check on that prospect in the coming days and weeks.

James signed a two-year, $9MM deal with the Ravens in June. Regardless of his participation this season, the Ravens will aim to redevelop James for the 2022 season. Best known for his five-year stay as the Dolphins’ starting right tackle, James has not seen much action since his Miami days ended.

Previously in position to reclaim his role as the Broncos’ right tackle, after opting out in 2020, James suffered the major injury while training on his own this offseason. That led to a quick Denver exit. The Broncos gave James a big-ticket deal to close their revolving door at right tackle in 2019, but the ex-Dolphins starter missed most of the ’19 season and ended up logging fewer than 100 snaps in total in Denver.

Baltimore’s tackle situation radically changed this year as well. The Ravens traded right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. to the Chiefs and signed Alejandro Villanueva. Another Ronnie Stanley injury, however, kicked Villanueva back to left tackle and has left the Ravens weaker than usual up front.

Ravens Reduce Roster To 53

The Ravens cut down their roster to 53 players today, with the team making the following transactions:

Released

Waived/Injured

Placed on Reserve/NFI

The team also announced a handful of previously reported transactions, which you can find here.

Obviously Pernell and Levine are the two major names on this list, but there’s a chance the veterans land back in Baltimore once the team places a handful of players on IR.

Pernell spent the past two seasons in Baltimore, starting 20 of his 22 appearances. In those 22 games, the 32-year-old collected 53 tackles and six sacks. The veteran also started his career with the Ravens before bouncing between the Bears and Washington. Levine, meanwhile, isn’t a stranger to bouncing on and off the Ravens roster, but he’s still managed to miss only one regular season game for the organization since 2013. That missed game actually came in 2020, when the special teams ace finished with only seven tackles.

Minor NFL Transactions: 7/22/21

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here:

Baltimore Ravens

Cincinnati Bengals

Jacksonville Jaguars

New York Giants

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Ravens Officially Sign Ja’Wuan James

It’s officially official. On Thursday, free agent offensive lineman Ja’Wuan James inked his Ravens contract. 

James was cut loose by the Broncos earlier this year after suffering a torn Achilles’ tendon. The injury happened outside of the team facility, so he still has some business to settle with his former club. Given the nature of the injury, most assumed that James would spend the year rehabbing before signing his next deal in 2022. Instead, the Ravens moved quickly to sign him to a two-year deal worth up to $9MM in total.

James could even suit up sometime this year, according to Ravens head coach John Harbaugh. If James can stay healthy and return to the form he exhibited in South Beach, this could prove to be one of the savviest signings of the year. James’ last full season came in 2018 with the Dolphins. In that year, Pro Football Focus measured the former first-round pick as a top-35 tackle. He’s been a starter ever since he entered the league — save for his stints on the IR.

For now, longtime Steelers starter Alejandro Villanueva is ticketed to handle the right tackle job with Ronnie Stanley returning to his spot on the left side.

Ravens’ Ja’Wuan James Could Play In 2021?

The Ravens recently signed Ja’Wuan James to a two-year deal worth around $9MM. It’ll pay him a minimum salary in 2021 with around $8MM coming in 2022, as James of course tore his Achilles earlier this offseason while working out away from the Broncos’ facility.

Denver then cut him while voiding his hefty salary. James has since filed a grievance looking to recover $10MM in 2021 salary and $5MM in 2022 salary, but in the meantime is a member of the Ravens. It was initially assumed Baltimore signed him as a long-term future investment, but it turns out he could return to play sooner than previously thought.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said yesterday that James hasn’t been ruled out for 2021 and could return to the field in November of December, via Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com (Twitter link). That being said, Harbaugh added it’s not something they’re counting on, just that it’s a possibility.

The Ravens also signed Alejandro Villanueva to be their new starting tackle opposite Ronnie Stanley after trading Orlando Brown Jr., but it’s possible James will be viewed as an upgrade over Villanueva once he’s healthy.

James’ time in Denver was plagued by injuries, but he was a very solid starter for Miami before that.

Ravens To Sign Ja’Wuan James

In a surprise move, the Ravens have agreed to sign offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter). James is unlikely to play anytime soon, due to his ruptured Achilles. Still, the Ravens moved to sign him with the hope that he’ll be 100% healthy for 2022. The deal could pay up to $9MM in total. 

[RELATED: James Files Grievance Against Broncos]

The deal is still pending a physical, though the exam will account for James’ primary injury. If all goes well, James will put pen to paper this week and collect $500K in guaranteed money for 2021. In essence, he’s getting $500K to rehab under team supervision this year and agreeing to play for $8MM in 2022. Beyond that, James can reach the full $9MM via incentives.

After spending his first five years with the Dolphins, James inked a four-year, $51MM deal with Denver to serve as their long-term starter. But, due to knee injuries, the former first-round pick only appeared in three games in 2019. Then, he opted out of the 2020 season. Now, he’s moving on to Baltimore, though he’s still hashing out some financial matters with his old club.

The Ravens see James as a potential heir to the right tackle job. They’ve got Alejandro Villanueva under contract for the next two years, but he’s unlikely to match Orlando Brown‘s level of performance. James, in theory, could provide better protection in 2022 with Villanueva serving as a backup.

Former Broncos OL Ja’Wuan James Files Grievance

Offensive lineman Ja’Wuan James has filed a grievance against the Broncos (via PFT). The offensive lineman is seeking to recover $10MM of his 2021 salary, plus $5MM in 2022 salary.

James’ 2021 pay was guaranteed for skill and injury while $5MM of his ’22 salary was guaranteed for injury. The Broncos say they owe James nothing, because his workout injury happened outside of the team facility. James, meanwhile, contends that he was working out in a fashion that was “specifically authorized” by the club. Furthermore, he was working out with other Broncos teammates. And, on top of all of that, James claims that the Broncos’ facilities were not in compliance with Colorado’s COVID-19 safety guidelines.

In the filing, James’ attorneys noted a May 5 NFL memo which noted that workout injuries outside of facilities “specifically or as specifically authorized by his club are considered ‘football-related injuries.’” The Broncos placed James on the reserve/non-football injury list two days later. And, on May 14, the Broncos cut James.

In response, the Broncos will likely argue that his non-facility workout was strictly voluntary. And, as a result, they’re not responsible.

Former Broncos OL Ja’Wuan James Considering Grievance

The Ja’Wuan James/Broncos battle could get messy. A source tells ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler that the former Broncos offensive lineman is “strongly considering filing a grievance through the NFLPA over potential lost wages of up to $10M” (Twitter link).

To review: James suffered a torn Achilles’ tendon while working out away from the Broncos’ team facility, leading to the player’s release yesterday. The front office will likely move to void James’ $10.58MM salary, something that wouldn’t have been feasible had James suffered the injury at the Broncos’ facility. The NFL recently reiterated these risks in a memo, mentioning James by name and noting that teams “would have “no contractual obligation” to pay players like James who were injured away from the team facilities” (via ESPN).

Following fellow Bronco DaeSean Hamilton‘s offsite ACL tear on Friday, James tweeted the NFLPA needs to have players’ backs after advising them to boycott voluntary offseason workouts. The NFLPA had previously sent out a memo noting that it was “gutless” of the league to use these injuries as scare tactics in an attempt to lure players back to team facilities.

Denver had previously placed James on its reserve/NFI list, laying the groundwork for yesterday’s move. The remaining $9MM in prorated signing bonus money will be due. Fowler notes that the organization does have the option of throwing him some extra cash on the way out, so the two sides could still theoretically come to an agreement before James officially files a grievance.

After spending the first five years of his career in Miami, James inked a four-year, $51MM deal with Denver in 2019. James was ticketed to be the Broncos’ long-term starter, but knee injuries in 2019 limited the former first-round pick to only three games. Because of his 2020 opt-out and this Achilles development, the 29-year-old lineman’s Denver career will be capped at 63 snaps. James underwent surgery yesterday and is now officially a free agent.