After five different starting right tackles in five seasons, the Denver Broncos finally got their guy after agreeing to a four-year $58 million contract with former Miami Dolphins tackle Ja’Wuan James.
John Elway tried to trade for James in 2018 but the Alabama alum chose to remain in South Flordia. Now, through free agency, the Broncos have made James the highest-paid right tackle in the NFL.
The 26-year-old’s arrival in Denver spells the end for veteran Jared Veldheer, who started at the position in 2018 after the Broncos acquired from Arizona in a trade last year.
Veldheer was allowed to hit free agency along with versatile lineman Billy Turner and center Matt Paradis, with both expected to sign elsewhere.
Right tackles don’t grab headlines, and James is no different. So far, the sixth-year pro has not reached an elite level, but he does represent an upgrade for the Broncos compared to recent seasons.
As Pro Football Focus analyst Mark Chichester notes, James has never graded below 63.0 but has never scored above 76.0.
Put another way, James has not made the top-25 offensive tackles rankings, with his best season coming in 2016, which earned a 75.9 overall grade or 28th among 84 qualifying players.
The Broncos’ offensive line has struggled to protect quarterbacks and has seen several personnel changes in recent seasons but James — if he can stay healthy — should give the Broncos a long-term solution alongside 2017 first-round left tackle Garett Bolles.
With Hall of
Munchak might even help James to finally crack the upper echelons of the Pro Football Focus rankings.
For more analysis on Ja’Wuan James, head over to Pro Football Focus.