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
”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
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
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
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
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.”
Williams is one of only five NFL players during the last nine
seasons to post at least 800 tackles and 20 sacks, and he displayed
his versatility by starting at the weakside, middle, strongside and
inside positions for a revolving door of defensive coordinators and
schemes in Denver.
He turns 31 this summer and is sure to draw interest on the open
market but he is coming off a season in which he collected just 14
tackles in seven games and only made one start because of his two
suspensions that cost him about $4 million in salary and relegated
him to playing on special teams and in sub packages upon his return
Williams was suspended six games for violating the league’s
policy on performance-enhancing drugs and three games for an
alcohol-related arrest in 2010 that led to a conviction last
He was originally charged with driving under the influence, but
a jury convicted him of the lesser charge of driving while
impaired. He was also convicted of driving without headlights, the
offense that prompted police to stop him near downtown Denver in
the early morning hours on Nov. 12, 2010, before taking him to a
The Broncos stripped Williams of his captaincy shortly after his
arrest – the second time he’d been detained for suspicion of
drunken driving. In 2005, he pleaded guilty to impaired
A judge last fall sentenced him to 30 days of house arrest and
two years’ probation.
Williams also made news last summer by tweeting a picture of his
new digital playbook and saying his coaches were asking him to
switch positions yet again.
If Dumervil follows Williams out the door, the Broncos will have
some big shoes to fill on a defense that was one of the NFL’s
stingiest last season.
”It’s always important to keep a defense together,” Bruton
said. ”This is the first time having the same defensive
coordinator in my career here. So I feel like that’s a great step
in the right direction. But teams change, players change. We just
don’t want to change that mentality no matter who we bring in.
”As far as me worrying, I don’t have to worry as much anymore.
You still worry who they bring in, because the NFL is a revolving
door. Guys come in, guys come out. It’s just the nature of the
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