John Fox’s next-man-up philosophy never held more true than when D.J. Williams was suspended for the Denver Broncos first nine games of last season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy and then for being convicted of driving while ability impaired.
Wesley Woodyard and Keith Brooking stepped up in such a way that even when Williams returned to the team, he only played in roughly 31% of the team’s defensive snaps. He finished the year with 14 tackles and one pass defended in eight games.
Before the season, Williams was the Broncos’ leading tackler for four of the previous five seasons.
Behind Peyton Manning, Elvis Dumervil, and Champ Bailey, Williams would be the fourth highest paid player on the team. He’s set to make about $6 million in base salary if kept on the roster.
Woodyard led the team in tackles last season with 117. He also added 5.5 sacks, 3 interceptions, and a forced fumble. Off the field, he keeps his nose cleaner than most in the league, and he’s a leader in the locker room.
All arrows point to the Broncos releasing Williams unless they can work out a trade. Saving $6 million in base salary would allow the team to pick up a prominent defensive tackle or even a cornerback.
Williams was drafted by the Broncos 17th overall in the 2004 draft.