On Monday, the team announced cutting D.J. Williams and Caleb Hanie, while they re-signed David Bruton.
Williams' cut comes as no surprise, as the team said last week they would look to trade the veteran linebacker, or cut him if there was no interest. The former first round pick in 2004 has never realized his full potential, being no better than a middle of the road linebacker through nine years in Denver. Too often, Williams tries to blow up ball-carriers instead of soundly wrapping them up, which results in broken tackles and extra yards for opposing teams. Add in his off the field troubles of two DUIs and a failed drug test with his over $8 million salary and the cut seems straightforward. The Broncos will save $6 million with the move, still owing Williams a $2.08 million bonus.
Hanie, who was brought in to backup Peyton Manning last year, was also cut Monday. The fourth-year pro and former Colorado State quarterback never saw a second of game time this season, and Denver decided to move in a different direction. They'll likely look to free agency for an older, less expensive QB to backup Manning and give second-year player Brock Osweiler competition. By cutting Hanie, Denver saved $1.25 million.
For Bruton, Monday brought good news, in a three-year $4.5 million deal. Bruton is a backup safety who just completed his fourth season as the Broncos' special teams ace. Bruton can be seen on most Sundays attempting to block field goals and extra points, while blocking for his teammates on punt returns. It's a great deal for a standup guy that sets the example in terms of work ethic and dedication to his craft.
So, all told, Denver now has $5.75 million more than when the day started, valuable money they can use to sign new free agents starting Tuesday afternoon.
Elvis Dumervil may also be cut if he and the team can't come to a deal in the next few hours, which would mean an $8 million savings and a huge void on the left side of the defensive line. But, if it does happen, look for the Broncos to go after Dwight Freeney of Osi Umenyiora.
They have many needs to address – a starting outside linebacker, upgrades at safety and defensive tackle, running back and offensive line depth – and the Broncos will certainly be a player in this year's free agency madness.