The Miami Dolphins are now in full draft mode and nothing is likely going to get done before the end of April. Not unless it has to do with the draft.
Earlier today the Dolphins executives Mike Tannenbaum, CEO Tom Garfinkel, and owner Stephen Ross met with the media following meetings with the owners at the owners meetings. Tannenbaum was apparently asked about the 5th year option of Ja’Wuan James. That decision doesn’t have to be made until May but I can give you an answer right now.
Omar Kelly of the Sun-Sentinel posted a Twitter message that the team will address that 5th year after the draft.
The reality is that James has done nothing to warrant the team picking up that 5th year. In fact, if he didn’t carry a $2.6 million cap hit this year, he may have been an option for release. James has potential and he showed that potential in his rookie season. What happened after that? Perhaps it was coaching.
James played in all 16 games as a rookie and all 16 in 2016. In 2015 he missed all but 7 games with an injury. Injury and health are not as much of a concern as his play on the field. He just hasn’t reached the potential Miami had hoped for.
James does play better when he has quality guards next to him. In 2016 he played better with Bushrod but there were times that Bushrod picked up the slack and covered James’ mistakes.
Guaranteeing James $8 million plus in 2018 shouldn’t be an option. The Dolphins should instead try to sign him to a contract after the 2017 season based on how well he plays.
The option guarantees the 2018 salary to James in the event that he is injured and unable to play in 2018. The Dolphins can remove the 5th year option at any time before the first day of the league new year at which time the option is fully guaranteed.
Frankly there are too many questions surrounding James to risk paying him $8 million if he gets injured during the 2017 season. He just hasn’t produced enough on the field to warrant the risk. If the Dolphins see improvement in 2017 they can always tag him or sign him to an extension.