With eyes toward the 2022 season, the Ravens are set to add injured right tackle Ja’Wuan James to their offensive line mix.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter and other reports, the 29-year-old will sign a two-year deal worth up to $9 million, but most of that is tied to incentives as James is expected to miss the 2021 campaign while recovering from a torn Achilles tendon sustained away from the Denver Broncos’ facility earlier this spring. The 2014 first-round pick from Tennessee will receive a $500,000 signing bonus and would make $3 million and carry a salary cap hit of $3.25 million with the potential to earn an additional $5 million in incentives if he makes the 2022 roster, per The Athletic.
“I’m just very, very pleased to have him. He’s a highly-decorated player,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “He sat out one year [due to the COVID-19 pandemic]. He had the injury before and now another injury, so it’s a tough set of circumstances for him. But from what I understand, he’s very determined to get himself healthy again and get back to playing at the highest level. That injury there, the Achilles injury, is one that there could be a possibly he could be back this year even — November, December maybe. I wouldn’t say we’re counting on that, but it’s certainly something that you know is possible.”
Arguing that he was working out under the team’s guidance in preparation for the 2021 season, James has reportedly filed a grievance against the Broncos in which he seeks $15 million in lost salary after he was placed on the non-football injury list and released last month. This came after the NFL Players Association made a very public push for players around the league to skip voluntary workouts at team facilities this spring.
Adding James provides a unique opportunity for the Ravens to enhance their 2022 depth at the right tackle position after trading two-time Pro Bowl selection Orlando Brown Jr. in April. Baltimore signed former Pittsburgh Steelers left tackle Alejandro Villanueva to a two-year, $14 million contract just days after the draft, but the 32-year-old has rarely played on the right side in the NFL, making it uncertain how he will fare at his new position.
Of course, James will need to prove he is healthy next season after playing in just three games since the start of the 2019 season. The 6-foot-6, 312-pound lineman has played at a high level over his 65 career starts in the NFL — all but three with the Miami Dolphins — but knee, toe, and hamstring injuries have cost him 31 games since the start of 2015, a total that doesn’t include him sitting out last season due to the pandemic.