As the League wide opt outs continue to come in, Michael Lavery looks at the Broncos options to replace Ja’Wuan James .
The Denver Broncos starting right tackle, Ja’Wuan James informed the team that he plans to opt out of the 2020 season. This leaves a gap along the offensive line that needs filled and the Broncos will want to secure their new starter before training camp gets properly underway.
James wasn’t the first Bronco to opt out for the season, that title belongs to defensive lineman Kyle Peko who was placed on the reserve/higher risk opt out list last week.
The Broncos have options within their squad already who may be considered suitable replacements for James. Elijah Wilkinson, who started 12 games at the right tackle spot for Denver in 2019 is coming off the PUP list in the coming weeks following foot surgery and looks set to assume starting duties once again at right tackle. Head Coach Vic Fangio claimed Wilkinson was originally set to compete with Garrett Bolles for the starting job on the other side of the line at left tackle.
Ja’Wuan James signed with the Broncos last off season but only managed to play in three games before getting plagued with knee injuries. In a social media post, James said:
“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… 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 new-born 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…”
At 28 eight years old, age isn’t a huge factor for James, but it isn’t exactly on his side either. The NFL is evolving and is constantly getting younger and for James to be returning in the 2021 season when he’s one year shy of 30, doesn’t exactly work in his favour. He will have to work extremely hard to keep himself healthy and in good shape if he wants to have a roster spot next season.
Broncos CEO and President, Joe Ellis has publicly stated he will support any player who chooses to sit out this season. “That's absolutely, 100% their right, inherently. I've got no objection to that at all and would be supportive of that, if that's what somebody wants to do."
The difficulties and challenges of the ever changing 2020 season are becoming clearer by the day, but it’s no surprise that the Broncos are showing class and consideration to all their staff and players as they prepare to face these challenging times together.
The deadline for players to opt out is Thursday the 6th at 4pm EST. That’s 9pm UK/IRE, 10pm in Central Europe and 2pm in Denver.