Broncos cut Willis McGahee

Denver released veteran running back Willis McGahee on Thursday, as the team continues to go younger (and cheaper) at the position.

The 31-year-old back had been due a $2.5M salary this season and would have counted for $3M against the cap. According to Spotrac, McGahee's release will leave $500K in dead money on the books for each of the 2013 and 2014 seasons, while freeing up $2.5M in cap space in 2013 and $2M in 2014.

McGahee had not attended the team's voluntary OTAs, instead choosing to work out in Miami, before this week claiming "family obligations" were the cause.

In his absence, 2012 third-rounder Ronnie Hillman and 2013 second-rounder Montee Ball have received the bulk of repetitions.

Hillman, who will turn 22 in November, counts for less than $690K against the cap, while Ball, who turns 23 in December, has yet to have signed, but will likely have a cap number in the neighborhood of $700K.

Knowshon Moreno carries a $1.7M salary and $3.287M cap number, while cutting him would only have saved $945K against the cap. He's also six years younger than McGahee, and will turn 26 next month.

And while Moreno has not lived up to the billing of a 12th-overall pick (hello, sunk cost), he's not only younger and cheaper than McGahee, but has far more proverbial tread left on his tires, given that he only played two years of college ball (498 carries at Georgia) and has just 605 carries in the pros.

Obviously, that's largely attributable to injuries, but McGahee's injuries have been far more serious than have Knowshon's.

In 25 regular season games over two seasons with the Broncos, McGahee amassed 416 carries and 38 receptions for 2,202 yards from scrimmage and nine touchdowns, but also nine fumbles.

His 2012 season was cut short by a torn MCL and leg fracture suffered in Denver's Week 11 victory against San Diego.

In a statement, John Elway said the following about McGahee's release:

It’s never easy to part ways with a veteran player who made so many positive contributions to our team and community. I appreciate all of the competitiveness, toughness and leadership Willis brought to the Broncos. He was an integral part of our team’s turnaround during the past two seasons, and I wish him the best as he continues his NFL career.

The other backs remaining on the roster are Lance Ball, Jacob Hester, C.J. Anderson, and Jeremiah Johnson.


Updated 12:50pm ET

Doug is IAOFM’s resident newsman and spelling czar. Follow him on Twitter @IAOFM