Ja’Wuan James will be the highest-paid right tackle in the league pending any deals in the coming days.
A breakdown of the Denver Broncos‘ 2019 free-agent signings.
The Broncos will sign Ju’Wuan James to a four-year deal worth up to $52 million. Here’s a closer look at the tackle who spent the previous five seasons with the Miami Dolphins:
What it means: Broncos president of football operations/general manager John Elway moved quickly to fill another prominent need on the roster. James will arrive as the starting right tackle and the fact he was a primary target during the negotiating period means offensive line coach Mike Munchak has already given his seal of approval on the move. The Broncos have been interested in James, who played under Broncos assistant offensive line coach Chris Kuper for the past three seasons with the Dolphins, for some time. After the Bears re-signed tackle Bobby Massie — keeping him off the market — the Broncos pivoted to James. After quarterback and cornerback, the Broncos had right tackle as their priority in free agency and will pay James that way. At $13 million per year, James will be the highest-paid right tackle in the league pending any deals in the coming days.
What’s the risk: James has had some injury issues at times, having missed eight games in 2017 and nine in 2015. His career starts have gone this way: 16 as a rookie in ’14, seven in ’15, 16 in ’16, eight in ’17 and 15 starts last season. The Broncos need him, and are paying him, like he’s going to be there every week. At his best he’s the agile, powerful guy who held Khalil Mack without sack in Week 5 last season. During that game Mack finished with one tackle and Broncos coach Vic Fangio saw it up close as Chicago’s defensive coordinator.
The Broncos will sign Kareem Jackson to a three-year deal worth up to $33 million. Here’s a closer look at the defensive back who spent the previous nine seasons with the Houston Texans:
What it means: The Broncos have a massive need at cornerback. They have three who are unrestricted free agents and a fourth — Brendan Langley, a 2017 draft pick — who has told others he plans to move to wide receiver. Adding Jackson gives the Broncos the best, and most versatile cornerback on the market. Paired with Chris Harris Jr., the two give coach Vic Fangio quality options in coverage. Harris is one of the most versatile defensive backs in the league and can consistently play at an elite level both on the outside and in the slot. The Broncos have also lined Harris up at safety for a smattering of snaps when needed, either by scheme or because of injuries to others. And Jackson, too, can play on the outside, in the slot and has seen time at safety as well.
What’s the risk: Jackson will turn 31 in April so he’s already beaten the odds in many ways at a position that isn’t kind to most 30-somethings. He’s been a healthy player for most of his career, having played at least 14 games in seven of his previous nine seasons. And while he’s never played fewer than 12 games in a season, he’s played in all 16 games in just four seasons. The Broncos could use some good fortune in free agency given their work last year was marred by injuries to Clinton McDonald, Marquette King, Tramaine Brock, Su’a Cravens and Adam Jones.