The Baltimore Ravens signed veteran offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James to a two-year contract worth up to $9 million back in June, a month after he tore his Achilles tendon while training away from the Denver Broncos’ facility during offseason workouts.
At the time of the signing, it was viewed as a low-risk high-reward deal for the team as a contingency plan at right tackle once healthy in 2022 if former two-time Pro Bowler left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, formerly of the Pittsburgh Steelers, didn’t pan out in his transition to the right side. Another hopeful thought was that he could possibly be a late-season savior at the position if he were able to recover in enough time for the stretch run or playoffs.
James opened the season on injured reserve, was designated to return and practiced for the first time as a Ravens on Dec. 8. With the window for him to be activated to the 53-man roster nearing a close and current starter Patrick Mekari performing at an above-average-to-high level when healthy, the team isn’t holding out hope for James to make his debut in the final two weeks of the regular season.
“I think that ship has sailed,” Harbaugh said Wednesday. “My position on it was, he’ll do the best he can and really make the determination for himself. You’re talking about an Achilles, that’s something a player has to decide if he feels like he’s ready to go. There hasn’t been any talk along those lines. As a coach, we’re not preparing for him to be back. Of course, you could always be pleasantly surprised, but that’s not where we’re going right now.”
James is a former first-round draft pick of the Miami Dolphins who last played for the Denver Broncos in 2019 but was injured after just three games and opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID concerns. Whenever he ultimately recovers from his injury and returns to the fold, he’ll likely have a chance to compete for a starting job.