The Broncos announced on Tuesday that Dreessen had been released after the 31-year-old failed his team physical. Dreeseen underwent knee surgery in Febuary, his third in the past year.
“Unfortunately, he just had a knee that he couldn't recover from,” said executive vice president of football operations/general manager John Elway. “We are going to miss Joel. He was a big part of what we've done over the last three years."
A native of Ft. Morgan, Colorado, Dreessen joined the Broncos as a free agent in 2012 after spending the previous five seasons with the Houston Texans. In his two years in Denver, he caught 48 balls for 403 yards and six touchdowns. Limited by injuries last season, he caught seven passes for 47 yards and one touchdown.
"The Broncos have been so good to me,” said Dreessen. “I cannot praise 'Greek' (head athletic trainer Steve Antonopulos) and his guys enough for how good they've been to me. We've explored every single possible option to get me healthy.”
By releasing Dreessen, the Broncos will save $2.5 million against the salary cap. They still have depth at the tight end position, with veterans Jacob Tamme and Virgil Green slotted in behind emerging superstar Julius Thomas.
A nine-year veteran, Dreessen was selected by the New York Jets in the sixth round of the 2005 NFL Draft after a stellar college career at Colorado State. He is one of only 12 players in history to start a high school, college and NFL game in Colorado.
The Broncos also designated third-year safety Eric Hagg as reserved/retired on Tuesday. The Broncos had signed Hagg to a futures contract in Dec. The Broncos now have 87 people on their roster, with a 90-person limit.