The Broncos released linebacker D.J. Williams and third-string quarterback Caleb Hanie on Monday. The pair of moves saves the team $7.25M in cash and leaves $2.2M in dead money on the 2013 cap, thus freeing up just over $5M in cap room.
Williams had been due to draw a $6M salary, while Hanie was set to earn $1.25M; both players fulfilled lesser roles in 2012 than they might have envisioned. Wesley Woodyard established himself as Denver's starting Will linebacker in the absence of Williams, who served nine games' worth of suspensions for a DWAI conviction and PED violation.
Hanie, who had been signed to a two-year deal within days of the addition of Peyton Manning, was relegated to street clothes for the entire season, as second-rounder Brock Osweiler served as Manning's primary backup from the get-go.
D.J., who was selected in the first round of the 2004 Draft, had, along with Champ Bailey, been the longest tenured of all Broncos. He first drew national attention when John Madden (the original Fat Man) called him first high school player he'd ever considered to be NFL-ready.
Parlaying that into a first-round selection and nine-year NFL career (and counting) is no joke, but Williams never quite lived up to expectations in Denver. Seven position changes under six different defensive coordinators didn't serve to help his cause, but neither did his multiple drunk driving offenses or iPad/playbook snafu of a year ago.
Speaking with Lindsay Jones of USA Today, Williams offered a rational view of his release:
It was a combination of things – the trouble in the past definitely had something to do with it, my salary was going to be pretty high next year, and the defense played pretty well without me this year. I don't think it was because of my play. I feel, actually I know, that when I'm out there I can produce.
Denver is still expected to cut ties with Elvis Dumervil and Joe Mays, and paired with these moves, they're likely to end up with over $23M in cap room.
The team currently has around $11.5M in space, while cutting Dumervil ($13.623M cap - $4.869M dead money = $8.754M savings) and Mays ($4,166,667 cap - $833,334 dead money = $3,333,333 savings) would leave them with $23,660,084 in room (minus whatever David Bruton's 2013 cap number is) according to Spotrac's current accounting.
Updated 6:36pm ET