The Broncos privately were happy that tackle Ja’Wuan James stepped down in 2020 because it meant they were avoiding his guaranteed salary of $ 9.85 million. While no team is happy when a player is injured, the Broncos are privately happy that James’ season-ending injury occurred away from the team’s facilities, as it again allows them to avoid the $ 9.85 million guaranteed salary that ranged from 2020 to 2021.
This is what will probably happen. The labor deal gives teams the option of not paying players who suffer injuries outside of the facility. Given the lingering dismay between the league and the union over voluntary off-season training, teams will be more likely than ever not to volunteer to pay a player who chooses not to volunteer to train for the season. team headquarters and who subsequently sustains an injury.
A separate issue for James stems from the very real possibility that the injury away from the facility will void the warranty for good, allowing the Broncos to ultimately cut James and avoid the guaranteed salary of $ 9.85 million forever.
Under the contract he signed in 2019, James also has a guaranteed future salary of $ 5 million for injuries alone. This warranty will also potentially be void, due to offsite injury.
Next is the kicker, if the Broncos really want to play hardball with James. Given the language of the ABCs and the player’s standard contract, they can recoup the portion of his signing bonus applicable to the 2021 season. That’s $ 3 million the Broncos could ask James to pay back, on the basis for a signing bonus of $ 12 million spread over four years in total.
Whether a player will train on their own or at the team’s premises needs to be resolved on a case-by-case basis. The reality is that when it comes to the dramatic financial differences between getting injured on the job and being injured outside of work, most players would be better protected by still working on team premises.