Tue May 4 6:22pm ET
By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Pro Football Writer
ENGLEWOOD, Colo (AP) A person with knowledge of the injury tells The Associated Press that right tackle Ja'Wuan James sustained a torn Achilles tendon while working out away from the Denver Broncos' facilities Tuesday.
The person, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, said James' $10 million salary for 2021 is in jeopardy because the injury occurred off-site.
ESPN first reported James' injury, which is expected to sideline him for the entire 2021 season.
He is among dozens of Broncos and hundreds of NFL players leaguewide who are boycotting voluntary offseason work at team facilities this spring. Players have cited concerns over COVID-19 safety protocols, but also are pushing for a reduced offseason schedule after last year's virtual offseason led to fewer injuries.
Had James gotten hurt at the team's facilities, his salary would have been covered.
James' injury is sure to be a top talking point as the NFL encourages players to return to team facilities later this month when the offseason program ramps up beyond weight room sessions that are allowed now.
Phase 2 beginning May 17 will remain voluntary with virtual meetings but on-field drills will be permitted in advance of a mandatory minicamp.
James has only played 63 snaps since signing a four-year, $51 million free agent contract with the Broncos in 2019, which at the time was the highest ever for a right tackle.
James missed most of his first season in Denver with a balky knee and opted out in 2020 over coronavirus concerns.
The Broncos bypassed available tackles in last weekend's draft, in part because of James' expected return to the lineup.
''We targeted a few that were taken right before we took them, but it didn't fall our way,'' general manager George Paton said Saturday when asked about not adding a tackle in the draft. ''We still feel good about our depth. We'll continue to look on the market - the free-agent market. I think we're signing five offensive linemen from college free agency.''
The Broncos have had more trouble filling their right tackle spot than they have finding a suitable successor to quarterback Peyton Manning, who retired in 2016.
The Broncos have had a different starting right tackle for their opener in each of the past eight seasons. Last year's fill-in was Elijah Wilkinson, who signed with the Chicago Bears this offseason.
Calvin Anderson, who played in every game last season and started twice, is an option to start at right tackle for Denver in 2021. Available free agents include Demar Dotson, who played for the Broncos last season, and former Chiefs All-Pro Mitchell Schwartz, who is coming off back surgery.
The Green Bay Packers will bring in quarterbacks Chad Kelly and Kurt Benkert to this weekend's rookie minicamp on a tryout basis, according to sources with knowledge of the situation. Benkert went undrafted out of Virginia and spent the last three seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, mainly on the practice squad. Kelly, the nephew of Hall of Famer Jim Kelly, was taken with the final pick of the 2017 draft by the Denver Broncos, but he washed out of Denver after two seasons. He's been with the Indianapolis Colts the last two years but was released. Both players could become camp arms with upside further down the depth chart if they sign in Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers and Jordan Love, last year's first-round pick, are the only signal-callers currently on the roster.
Houston Texans general manager Nick Caserio said there is no pressure for rookie quarterback Davis Mills to perform in a hurry despite the turmoil surrounding Deshaun Watson and more than 20 lawsuits filed against him. "No different than any other player," Caserio said of the timeline of bringing along the first-year signal-caller. "Bring him in, teach him our system, teach him our terminology, take it one step at a time." It's unclear what will happen with Watson as the legal proceedings play out, but the Texans weren't looking to trade him, despite his public request, before his legal issues arose. Since then, trade chatter surrounding Watson has quieted down. The three-time Pro Bowler could remain with the Texans in 2021, but wherever he's playing, he could be facing a lengthy suspension as well.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are planning to sign quarterback-turned-tight-end Tim Tebow to an undisclosed one-year deal, and it could become official in the next week or so. Tebow will have a chance to make the team and reunite with head coach Urban Meyer, who was his mentor and college head coach at the University of Florida. The 33-year-old gave up his baseball career with the New York Mets and is now giving it another go on the gridiron at a different position. The Jaguars have long been looking for a tight end, but that's unlikely to be Tebow. He last played in the NFL with the New York Jets in 2012. If Tebow were to win a roster spot out of training camp, he'd be competing with Chris Manhertz, James O'Shaughnessy and rookie Luke Farrell for playing time.
Tennessee Titans TE Parker Hesse, LB Matthew Orzech and LB Nate Orchard were waived Monday, May 10.
Free-agent QB Kurt Benkert (Falcons) and QB Chad Kelly (Colts) will participate in the Green Bay Packers rookie minicamp on a tryout basis, according to sources.
Free-agent WR Dede Westbrook (Jaguars) has had preliminary conversations with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Free-agent TE Tim Tebow (Eagles) plans to sign a one-year contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Washington Football Team signed wide receiver Curtis Samuel to a three-year deal this offseason, reuniting him with head coach Ron Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner from their time together with the Carolina Panthers. Rivera drafted Samuel in 2017, and Turner was the quarterbacks coach in Carolina from 2018-2019. "You can do a lot of different things with him," Turner said. "He's only 24 years old, I think he's just scratching the surface on what he's capable of." Samuel broke out in 2020, catching a career-high 77 passes for 851 yards and three touchdowns, adding 200 rushing yards and two more TDs. Samuel will be the No. 2 behind Terry McLaurin and will be an ideal fit for this offense. He'll be a low-end WR2 with Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing him passes.
The Los Angeles Chargers signed free-agent defensive tackle Christian Covington to an undisclosed deal on Monday, according to his agent. Covington was a sixth-round pick by the Houston Texans out of Rice in 2015. He's also spent time with the Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals in his six NFL seasons. Covington started 14 of the 16 games he played in for the Bengals last season and was on the field for 53 percent of the team's defensive snaps. The 27-year-old had 39 tackles (14 solo) and one QB hit. In his NFL career, Covington has 132 tackles (15 for loss), 20 QB hits, two passes defensed, one forced fumble and 8.5 sacks in 82 games (29 starts).
The Kansas City Chiefs signed former linebacker Tamba Hali to a one-day contract on Monday so he can officially retire with the organization. The six-time Pro Bowler played with the Chiefs for his entire 12-year career. The 37-year-old last played in the NFL in 2017, but he made the Pro Bowl with Kansas City in five straight seasons from 2011 to 2015. He was the 20th overall pick in the first round of the 2006 NFL draft and finished his illustrious career with 596 tackles (105 for loss), 159 QB hits, two interceptions (one for a touchdown), 16 passes defensed, 33 forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries (one for a TD) and 89.5 sacks in 177 regular season games (157 starts).
Ex-Seattle Seahawks linebacker Shaquem Griffin has drawn interest from multiple teams and should find a home soon, according to sources informed of the situation. The fifth-rounder in 2018 appeared in 46 games for the Seahawks, recording one sack, six QB hits and 25 tackles. Griffin's twin brother, Shaquill Griffin, signed a big deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars this offseason. The twins played together at UCF and in Seattle, so Griffin may be looking to join his brother in Jacksonville. His new club could be looking at him as a full-time pass-rusher after he played off the ball in Seattle. The 25-year-old became the odd-man out in Seattle after the team added Jordyn Brooks, Cody Barton and Ben Burr-Kirven to the position in recent seasons.
Pro Bowl left tackle Eric Fisher is signing a one-year, $9.4 million deal with the Indianapolis Colts on Monday, according to a source. The former No. 1 overall pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2013 will now be quarterback Carson Wentz's blind-side protector in 2021. The 30-year-old tore his right Achilles before the Super Bowl last year and was cut by KC. The Colts won't rush Fisher back, though, so there's a chance that he's not ready to play until early October. Coming out of this year's NFL draft, the left tackle position was still a big area of need for the Colts, but this signing takes care of that and makes their offensive line even more elite. It's excellent news as Wentz tries to bounce back from a disastrous final season with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2020. It's also great news for second-year running back Jonathan Taylor.
Former Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Antwaun Woods, who was waived last week, is visiting the Indianapolis Colts on Monday, according to a source. Woods, a former undrafted free agent out of USC, played two seasons with the Tennessee Titans before joining the Cowboys in 2018. The 6-foot-1, 310-pounder has recorded 83 tackles (25 solo), four tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, one pass defensed and two fumble recoveries in 40 career games (32 starts) with the Titans and Cowboys. Woods helped spark Dallas' midseason improvement on defense last year when he was moved into the starting lineup, and he finished with 23 tackles (seven solo), one sack and two QB pressures in 14 games (seven starts) in 2020. He'd be a rotational nose tackle for Indy if he were to sign.
Free-agent LB Tamba Hali (Chiefs) signed a one-day contract with the Kansas City Chiefs Monday, May 10, so he can retire as a member of the organization.
Free-agent DE Christian Covington (Bengals) agreed to terms with the Los Angeles Chargers Monday, May 10. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Free-agent QB Blaine Gabbert (Buccaneers) agreed to an undisclosed deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Monday, May 10.
Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers could realistically land with the Denver Broncos, who have the second-most salary cap space in football.
Fantasy Spin: Rodgers' fantasy value will be about the same wherever he calls signals next season. Denver's thin air can be brutal on a body, and Rodgers has a lengthy injury history. That would be the only concern for the upper-middle QB1.
Former QB Tim Tebow is an option as a backup tight end for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Buffalo Bills WR Cole Beasley leads all receivers with 180 catches over the last three seasons while lined up in the slot, according to Pro Football Focus.
Seattle Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett has amassed 31 catches of at least 15 yards out of the slot since the start of the 2019 season - tied for the most in the NFL over that span - according to Pro Football Focus.