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Retain, Tag, or Walk? - Ja’Wuan James

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A look at Miami Dolphins tackle Ja’Wuan James ahead of free agency.

New England Patriots v Miami Dolphins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

One month from now, we will be in the middle of the “legal tampering” period of the NFL calendar, with the new league year - and free agency - one month from tomorrow. We are just 29 days away from the madness starting all around the NFL. Who will hit the open market?

Franchise front offices all around the league are preparing for free agency, with their first looks at their own players on expiring contracts. They will make decisions on those players, and whether they need to be re-signed, franchise tagged, or allowed to leave in free agency. Over the past several weeks, Justin Hier and I have been working our way through the Miami Dolphins players with expiring contracts, giving you a chance to vote on whether the Dolphins should re-sign, tag, or allow the player to leave.

Today, we will turn to the offensive line and take a look at tackle Ja’Wuan James.

Fact Check

Position: T
Age: 26 (27 in June)
Experience: Entering 6th season
Height/Weight: 6’6”, 312 lbs
College: Tennessee
Expiring Contract: 5-year, $17.8 million ($9.3 million cap number in 2018)

2018 Review

Between the end of the 2017 regular season and the start of the 2018 league year, there was a lot of discussion about the Dolphins rescinding the fifth-year option on James’ contract and letting him hit free agency. They ultimately decided to keep James, and he played well throughout the year - not perfectly, but solidly and well enough, with left tackle Laremy Tunsil, to make it so Miami really did not need to worry about the outside positions on the offensive line. James played in 15 of the team’s 16 games, missing the Week 10 game with a knee issue.

2019 Outlook

James is going to be a starting right tackle in the league and can likely land a pretty decent contract in free agency. Miami is looking to rebuild, so they have a decision to make with regards to James’ position on the roster. He will be 27 when the season begins, but the Dolphins already have a ton of holes on the offensive line that they may need to keep James to prevent themselves from creating yet another.

Verdict

I feel like I have retained too many players in my half of these articles, but I would look to keep James as well. I am not sure what his asking price would be for 2019, which would be the deciding factor. Lane Johnson is the highest paid right tackle in the league, with an $11.25 million per year average. After that, it drops to Ricky Wagner at $9.5 million per year, then Rob Havenstein at $8.125 million, Morgan Moses at $8 million, and Bobby Massie at $8 million. James was the highest paid right tackle in the league in 2019 in single-season salary, and he could be looking to continue to be among the elites. I am finding a way to sign James this year and keep the two tackles on the roster and playing together - recognizing that the Dolphins will have to make a quick decision on Tunsil as well who should see his fifth-year option exercised this year and a long-term contract be worked out at some point.

My vote: Retain

I did not include the tag option for James. He could be a player worthy of a franchise tag in general, but the $15 million it would cost for an offensive lineman to be tagged this year seems too high for a right tackle.

Poll

Should the Dolphins retain Ja’Wuan James or allow him to walk in free agency?

This poll is closed

  • 72%
    Retain
    (832 votes)
  • 27%
    Let walk
    (323 votes)
1155 votes total Vote Now