One key Denver Broncos player will miss the entire 2021 season. According to ESPN, Broncos offensive lineman Ja'Wuan James suffered a torn Achilles tendon in a workout away from the team facility. The injury will likely be season-ending, and James will have surgery. With the injury happening away from the team facility, the Broncos are not obligated to pay James his base $9.85 million salary because it's considered a "non-football injury."
This will be the second consecutive season James will miss. He opted out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "After continuous conversation with my family over the past couple weeks about the NFL figuring out the plan for the 2020 season, I've decided to opt out," James said in a statement back in August. "It is tough, but the right decision. There's just too much unknown about this virus & about plans handling it going forward. My wife & I were blessed with our newborn son May 22 & he's now my top priority."
"Although I worked all offseason & invest in my body to bounce back & have a great year on the field, it's just not worth risking the health of my loved ones," James continued. "I've seen this virus already hospitalize one of my family members & hope to not have that happen again. We can't live in fear or just confine ourselves just to our homes but we all have to make the right conscious choices and navigate through day to day life to protect our neighbors."
James signed a four-year, $51 million contract with the Broncos in March 2019 after spending five seasons with the Miami Dolphins. In that season James only played in three games due to a knee injury he suffered in Week 1. James was drafted No. 19 overall by the Dolphins and had an impressive rookie season. He played in all 16 games and was selected to the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) All-Rookie Team.
Throughout his NFL career, James has dealt with multiple injuries. He missed more than half of the 2015 season due to a toe injury. James missed half of the 2017 season because of a hamstring injury. When talking about James, Broncos general manager George Paton said: "He's been here, and he's been working out. He looks great and the expectation is he starts at right tackle and he plays well.''