Report: Vikings interested in free-agent OT Ja’Wuan James
By Chris Schad
The Minnesota Vikings are reportedly interested in the former Miami Dolphins right tackle. But can they find a way to create cap room to make it happen?
Minnesota Vikings fans may already be frustrated by the team’s offseason after several available offensive linemen have come off the board in recent days. After Kevin Zietler was shipped from the Cleveland Browns to the New York Giants and Kenechi Osemele went from Oakland to the New York Jets, some may be wondering when it will be the Vikings’ turn to revamp their offensive line.
On Sunday afternoon, a potential target for Minnesota surfaced in former Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Ja’Wuan James. According to KSTP’s Darren Wolfson, the Vikings, “really like,” the 26-year-old offensive tackle who is scheduled to be a free agent this offseason.
James would be an intriguing target for Minnesota after showing signs of improvement over his past couple seasons. After being selected with the 19th overall pick by the Dolphins in the 2014 NFL Draft, James struggled in his rookie season when he allowed 58 quarterback pressures and then he lost a majority of his 2015 season due to a toe injury.
After showing improvement in 2016 with Pro Football Focus giving him the highest overall (75.9) and run blocking grades (77.6) of his career, James battled a leg injury that landed him on injured reserve in 2017 before having a solid season last year.
With an overall grade of 70.8 from Pro Football Focus in 2018 that ranked him 32nd among eligible tackles, his specialty has become creating holes in the running game while also allowing a career-low 26 quarterback pressures last season.
James also would be a strong fit for the Vikings with their desire to run the football under offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski and offensive advisor Gary Kubiak. Over the years, Kubiak’s system has used plenty of athletic linemen and James’ combine numbers from 2014 placed his agility score in the 89th percentile of offensive lineman according to Player Profiler.
While everything sounds nice, the elephant in the room is Minnesota being able to create enough cap space to land a top free agent like James. Moves to give the Vikings more spending money could be coming in the next couple days and Wolfson also mentioned on Sunday that Minnesota is looking at potential trade partners for some current players on their roster.
Whether or not James winds up in purple next season could come down to the financial gymnastics that may come with it. Still, it’s a situation that Vikings fans should monitor prior to the beginning of the new league year that takes place this Wednesday, March 13.
(For more grades, advanced statistics and more at Pro Football Focus, subscribe to PFF’s EDGE or ELITE subscriptions at ProFootballFocus.com.)