Tight end Daniel Graham has been released by the Broncos today after four seasons with the team. Meanwhile, Denver extended qualifying offers to several veteran players - right tackle Ryan Harris, placekicker Matt Prater, defensive linemen Marcus Thomas and Kevin Vickerson, and linebacker Wesley Woodyard.
UPDATE 10:13PM ET - According to Klis, Woodyard and Prater received second-round tenders worth $1.835 million, while Harris, Thomas and Vickerson received original round tenders worth $1.2 miliion. However, in the likely case that the next NFL season is played under a new CBA, those latter three players will all be unrestricted free agents.
7:48PM ET - Via Josina and Twitter, Marcus Thomas' agent says the player will not be signing his tender and wants to test unrestricted free agency, for what that's worth...
Original entry 5:51PM ET - Graham is the son of former Broncos linebacker Tom Graham, grew up in Colorado and won the 2001 John Mackey Award as the nation's best college tight end for the CU Buffs. In his four seasons with Denver, Graham played in 63 of 64 potential games, started 61 and recorded 102 receptions for 1,072 yards and 7 touchdowns while maintaining his reputation as one of the league's most formidable blocking tight ends. As we pointed out earlier in the week, Graham's departure was expected thanks to a $1 million roster bonus he would have been due on Friday, plus a $4.2 million salary for the 2011 season. Denver is now left with Richard Quinn, Dan Gronkowski and Daniel Coats at tight end.
As of now, no word on what level of tenders were extended, but the Broncos would have an opportunity to match any contract offer provided by another team. Depending upon the level of tender, there is the possibility that Denver would receive draft-pick compensation in return for letting some of the players walk. We'll keep you posted as more news comes out.
Regarding Graham's release, John Elway tweeted the following:
We're thankful for everything Daniel Graham did for the Broncos and the Denver community. Tough to let him go. We wish him the best.
DP on Graham's release - Klis also points out that Jamal Williams is due a $1 million bonus, on the third day of the new league year, so he is also a likely cut.
Graham's profile on the team's website
Graham's PFR page
Klis speculated earlier in the day that Prater and Woodyard would receive second-round tenders. Sounds a bit rich, but we shall see...