Report: Broncos to let Holliday walk

Last updated: Mar 6, 2014 9:35 PM

According to PFT, the Broncos have opted not to tender return man Trindon Holliday as a restricted free agent.

Had Denver tendered Holliday at the lowest (Right of First Refusal) level, his 2014 salary would have been $1.431M, a steep increase from his 2013 salary, which was $480K.

Instead, the boom-or-bust player will be free to sign with any team, for a salary that we believe could be as low as $570K.

According to Vic Lombardi, the Broncos have not closed the door on re-signing Holliday at a lower salary than the tender would have been. But we read today's decision as Denver moving on from the return man.

Holliday's fall from grace was sudden and dramatic; as recently as Week 4 of the 2013 season, he was an electrifying touchdown machine.

The former Olympic hopeful track star scored six return touchdowns for the Broncos in the span of a calendar year, including two during the heartbreaking 2012 playoff loss to Baltimore.

He followed those up with return scores in Weeks 2 and 4 of last season, and Holliday seemed primed to rewrite Denver's and the NFL's record books.

But then the wheels came off.

Several fumbles and muffs later, his reps were sharply diminished, split amongst decidely less explosive players like Eric Decker, Wes Welker, Andre Caldwell, and Omar Bolden.

When Holliday did touch the ball, he was a clearly less confident runner, skittish even.

John Fox's loss of confidence in Holliday led to the disastrous overtime game-turner at New England, when Welker made a late fair-catch signal, and the ball glanced off of Tony Carter.

By the time the playoffs rolled around, punt returns had become Decker's domain.

After having seemingly solved a perennial riddle just a year ago, Denver will again be left without a true returner on the roster. It's a hole that will have to be filled this offseason.

Holliday's tale is a stark reminder of just how quickly a player can plummet from budding star to bargain basement discard.

In all, the 5-foot-5 speedster was charged with 10 fumbles during his brief time in Denver, and that figure does not even include muffs.

FWIW, the Bears have also announced that their extraordinary return man, Devin Hester, will not be back with the team in 2014.

Of course, Hester carried a much higher cap number ($2.94M) last year than did Holliday, and he's no stranger to fumbles, albeit nowhere near the extent of Denver's soon-to-be-former returner.

During his career, Hester has 34 fumbles in 733 touches (4.64%), while Holliday has 11 in 133 (8.27%).

The Broncos' remaining restricted free agents are Chris Harris, who is expected to be tendered at the second-round level ($2.187M), and Mitch Unrein, whom we'd expect to draw the ROFR tender that Holliday did not.

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