Garett Bolles says Ja’Wuan James has to earn back his teammates’ trust

Among the many issues that will face the person who replaces John Elway as Broncos general manager: What to do with right tackle Ja’Wuan James.

Signed to a four-year, $51 million contract in March 2019, multiple knee injuries limited James to one half of play in three games that year. In July, James opted out of the season, citing COVID-19 concerns. His contract tolled forward so he has a $13 million cap number in 2021.

Cutting James wouldn’t make financial sense. The Broncos would absorb $19 million in “dead” cap charges by releasing James, according to Over The Cap. But the new general manager could identify a right tackle in the draft or or re-sign free agent Elijah Wilkinson to be the new starter.

Left tackle Garett Bolles said he talked to James “now and then,” during the season.

“He knows what he has to do to get back into the (offensive line) room and he knows what he has to do to earn our trust back,” Bolles said. “At the same time, we’re going to open our arms (to him) and love him and take care of him. He has a lot of work to do to get where he needs to be and I know he’ll do that.”

The Broncos can fit James’ money under the 2021 cap because Bolles’ new contract calls for a manageable cap charge of $5 million.

Ten players signed. The Broncos signed 10 members of their practice squad to future (offseason) contracts, including receiver Kendall Hinton, who played quarterback in the loss to New Orleans when Jeff Driskel was on the COVID-19/reserve list and Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles were deemed close contacts to Driskel and not allowed to play. Also signed were offensive tackles Quinn Bailey and Darrin Paulo, receivers Trinity Benson and Fred Brown, safety Chris Cooper, running back Damarea Crockett, fullback Jeremy Cox, tight end Jordan Leggett and defensive tackle Deyon Sizer.

Broncos pick ninth. The new general manager will have the ninth overall draft pick at his disposal. The Broncos will also have one selection apiece in rounds 2-6 and three seventh-round picks.

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