DENVER (AP) — The Denver Broncos have parted ways with versatile but vexing linebacker D.J. Williams.
The Broncos released the nine-year veteran Monday on the eve of free agency, freeing up his $6 million salary in 2013 for other needs.
“We appreciate the contributions made by D.J. Williams during his time with the Broncos,” John Elway, vice president of football operations, said in a statement. “He was a solid player with this team for a number of years, showing a lot of versatility at linebacker. Our organization wishes D.J. all the best going forward.”
The Broncos also have asked Pro Bowl defensive end Elvis Dumervil to take a pay cut. If not, he’ll be traded or released before Saturday when his $12 million salary for 2013 becomes guaranteed. Dumervil is also due $10 million in 2014 and $8 million in 2015.
Williams missed nine games while serving a pair of NFL-mandated suspensions last season and was deemed expendable after Wesley Woodyard had a breakout season at weakside linebacker in Jack Del Rio’s defense.
The Broncos also released third quarterback Caleb Hanie, a former Colorado State star who didn’t take a single snap in his one season in Denver following four years as the backup in Chicago.
The Broncos were busy on many fronts Monday, finalizing a three-year deal to keep backup safety David Bruton, their top special teams player, and working to keep defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson in navy and orange before the start of free agency Tuesday.
Williams’ departure is notable because he and cornerback Champ Bailey were the longest-tenured Broncos, their careers in Denver dating back to Mike Shanahan’s time as coach.
Williams was a first-round draft pick (17th overall) out of the University of Miami in 2004 and played four different linebacker positions during his nine seasons in Denver, where he led the team in tackles five times.
“It’s the nature of the business,” Bruton said about Williams’ release. “Guys change, things change. D.J. is still a young player. He was a great teammate. He’ll definitely make it somewhere and he’ll continue to make plays because whenever he stepped on the field here, he made plays. Best of luck to him. He’s been a great player and a good teammate. Just, his time was up here.”