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Broncos' Ja'Wuan James opts out of 2020 season

Once again, the Denver Broncos will be without its starting right tackle.
Credit: AP Photo/Jack Dempsey
Denver Broncos offensive tackle Ja'Wuan James takes the field on Monday, Aug. 19, 2019.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — For a second consecutive year, the Broncos will get no on-field production from right tackle Ja’Wuan James.

Citing his newborn baby and general health concerns about playing football during the coronavirus pandemic, James informed the Broncos on Monday that he is opting out for the 2020 season.

9NEWS was the first to report of James’ decision to bypass the 2020 season, which came as the Broncos’ full-squad was participating in its first day of conditioning and a walk-through session.

He was guaranteed $10 million this season, but that will be pushed forward to 2021.

A Broncos source said the plan is to replace James at right tackle with Elijah Wilkinson. Last season, Wilkinson started 12 games in place of the injured James, who was bothered by a knee injury. James appeared in just three games last year and didn’t finish any of them.

Credit: AP Photo/Jack Dempsey
Denver Broncos offensive tackle Ja'Wuan James takes the field on Monday, Aug. 19, 2019.

Although Broncos head coach Vic Fangio and general manager John Elway had said James’ knee was medically cleared to play at times last season, the former Miami Dolphin never felt comfortable.

In March 2019, the Broncos had made James the NFL’s highest-paid right tackle. His contract included $17 million in signing bonus and salary last year.

James issued a statement explaining his decision.

The Broncos now have 78 players on their roster, giving them two spots to fill – one to replace James and the other to replace veteran tight end Jeff Heuerman, who was released Friday.

James joins defensive tackle Kyle Peko as the two Bronco players who opted out of the 2020 season because of virus concerns. Another players, fullback/tight end Andrew Beck, tested positive last Wednesday and is quarantining for at least 10 days.

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