Miami Dolphins right tackle Ja'Wuan James has a hamstring injury that is expected to keep him out for Monday night's game and could cause him to miss the remainder of the season, we're told.
The Dolphins have to decide if it's worth playing the inconsistent James down the stretch heading into the final year of his deal in 2018. The team picked up his fifth-year option for nearly $9 million next season (and is guaranteed for injury) and must decide the immediate risk vs. reward return.
On the one hand, James is probably their best option there by a reasonable measure. On the other, playing him at some point could risk him for further injury and could kick in that salary for next season. That's a lot of scratch for a player who hasn't yet played to the level the team has expected out of him.
“I think Ja’Wuan’s had some really good games,” Dolphins head coach Adam Gase said. “And then he’s had games I think he would say he wishes he would have played a little better. I think that’s been the story of the first half of our season."
There had been a rumor that James also was dealing with a groin injury, but Gase denied that on Friday. Gase hinted the team could consider shutting James down soon but stopped short of saying that. We hear that's the direction the team is leaning right now, prior to any final decisions being made.
That also could hint that the team might go in a different direction at right tackle next season. The former No. 19 overall pick in 2014 started all 16 games in two of his three full seasons and the first eight games this season. But he also missed nine games in 2015 with a toe injury and appears down for a notable amount of time now, if not for the remainder of 2017.
We are far from any final decisions being made on James, but the option to walk away from such a big contract certainly can't be ruled out. The coming days will be interesting in regard to his status with the team, but if he's shut down it's possible that the Dolphins could move on next year if they determine that his salary doesn't match the potential return.