Now, he's a member of the Washington Redskins.
Redskins executive vice president Vinny Cerato called Vikings coach Brad Childress Tuesday and convinced him to trade James instead of releasing him. In exchange for James, the Vikings will receive a conditional seventh-round pick in 2009.
For the Vikings to receive the draft choice, James has to make the Redskins roster.
"He is young, talented and has a great deal of potential," Cerrato said.
The trade was made possible because of the holiday weekend. With no waiver wire on Friday because of the Memorial Day holiday, the Vikings couldn't process James' release until 4 p.m. on Tuesday.
Over the weekend several teams made inquiries to James' agents about putting in a waiver claim on the injured defensive end.
The Redskins were forced to act because offseason waiver claims are processed in reverse order of a team's record from the previous season, meaning 20 teams had priority over the Redskins. By making the conditional trade, the Redskins controlled James' rights.
James has had three surgeries on his left knee and has missed 24 games over the past two seasons. The Redskins believe James is 90 percent healed from his most recent surgery and would have a chance to be healthy by the start of the regular season.
John Clayton is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.