Ja’Wuan James injury could end his time in Miami
By Brian Miller
The Miami Dolphins will not have Ja’Wuan James at right tackle the rest of the year and he may not be in the teams long term plans either.
James will be placed on injured reserve later today according to reports out of Miami. His hamstring injury is worse than originally expected and several doctors have been examining the Dolphins starting tackle.
Now the question is no longer will he return this season but will he return in 2018? The Dolphins picked up the 5th year option on James during the off-season but that money is not guaranteed. In 2018 James is scheduled to make just over $9 million on the season.
It would be surprising if the Dolphins kept James at that salary regardless of whether he was healthy or not. Now the situation has changed quite a bit. The problem is that James is an average but serviceable right tackle. If Jesse Davis plays well enough through the remaining season, James will have no chance to return.
Miami appears to be headed towards a serious shake-up/makeover on offense next season. Adam Gase is an offensive minded coach and his offense, for lack of a better word, sucks this year. Granted Ryan Tannehill was lost in training camp and there is no guarantees he will not have a set back when he returns. Where Miami needs the most changes however is on the offensive line whether you want to believe the Dolphins or not.
Miami has not generated running lanes and pass protection has been poor as well. James was a part of that porous offensive line and if the Dolphins are going to hit the rest button on that unit in 2018, James would likely be a part of that purge.
The Dolphins have $18 million and change tied up in James and Mike Pouncey in 2018. Neither player is playing at a near $10 million per season level. Miami will save the entire $9.3 million of James’ contract and $7 million of Pouncey’s carrying a $2 million dead cap hit.
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James is a very good guy and well liked in the lockerroom. That will make any decision Miami makes this off-season harder. James also knows his situation as he spoke with a group of us in October and said that he realizes there are no guarantees for the future even with the option year considering it wasn’t guaranteed. James said then that the team and the unit continue to try to get better. Now the unit will need to get better without James.
What happens next year is obviously unknown at this time. Miami likely wont’ make a decision until after James has been cleared to return but the time frame on that window will be in early March.