The PhinPhanatic staff is recapping the 2016 season for each Miami Dolphins player as the team prepares for the start of free agency. Here is the 2016 player recap for starting right tackle Ja’Wuan James.
Ja’Wuan James has been on the Dolphins’ roster since joining the team as a first round draft pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. After being selected, the team signed him to a four-year, $8.4 million rookie contract (with a fifth year option), including a $4.4 million signing bonus, all $8.4 million guaranteed, and an average annual salary of just over $2 million. The team’s drafting of James was aimed at giving the team a consistently good, starting right tackle. James did serve as the team’s starting right tackle in 2016.
James started all of the games that he played in during the 2016 season. On the plus side, when James, Branden Albert, Laremy Tunsil, Mike Pouncey, and Jermon Bushrod were all in the starting lineup together, Jay Ajayi responded with his first two 200+ yard games. In addition, James played with better consistency than any of his previous three years.
On the negative side, James has yet to take the steps forward that would give the Dolphins the confidence that he can be counted on as the starting right tackle of the future. He committed 12 penalties (7 holding, 2 false starts,1 illegal formation, 1 illegal use of hands, 1 unsportsmanlike conduct), and he continued to struggle at times in both run blocking and pass protection. At no time was he a dominant force on the line. In fact, along with Bushrod, James formed a consistent right side of the line, but his overall performance was nothing to be satisfied with or excited about.
17 starts in 17 games played at right tackle.
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The upcoming season is important for James in determining his future and the Dolphins in determining the future of the right tackle position. The team’s drafting of James was aimed at giving the team a consistently good, starting right tackle. James consistently started in 2016, and his contract is fully guaranteed, but his play must improve for the team to consider exercising their option or signing him beyond the upcoming season.
Ja’Wuan James was originally the Dolphins’ first-round draft pick (19th overall) in the 2014 NFL Draft.