In a move that doesn’t surprise many, the Denver Broncos released linebacker D.J. Williams Monday. Williams was suspended for nine games last season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy and for being charged for driving while impaired.
Williams was taken by the Broncos in the first round of the 2004 draft, and was tied with Champ Bailey as the longest-tenured player on the team. Williams had 886 tackles, 20.5 sacks, two interceptions, 14 forced fumbles, and seven fumble recoveries while playing weakside, middle, strongside, and inside linebacker positions during his time with the Broncos.
“We appreciate the contributions made by D.J. Williams during his time with the Broncos,” Elway said. “He was a solid player with this team for a number of years, showing a lot of versatility at linebacker. Our organization wishes D.J. all the best going forward.”
Williams was easily replaced by Wesley Woodyard, who led the team in tackles and was a standout all year on defense.
The team also released backup quarterback Caleb Hanie Monday. Hanie spent just one season with the Broncos and he was generally inactive during the 2012 season. Hanie came into the NFL from Colorado State and spent four seasons with the Chicago Bears before coming to Denver.
The Broncos made sure they kept safety and special teams extraordinaire David Bruton by re-signing him to a three-year contract.
Bruton played in every game last season and led the Broncos in special teams plays. He was named a third alternate for the Pro Bowl squad as a special-teamer.
Bruton has played 61-of-64 possible regular-season games for Denver since he was selected in the fourth round (114th overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft, ranking second on the club in special-teams tackles (32) during that span.
“I’ve always wanted to stay in Denver since my rookie year,” Bruton said. “I fell in love with this place. I fell in love with the organization, how it’s run. There’s opportunities out there, there’s always that chance, but I feel like being here in Denver, I need to make the most of my opportunities.”
For his career, Bruton has seen action in 61 regular-season contests (4 starts), totaling 34 tackles (31 solo), one interception (-2 yds.) and six passes defensed. He also owns 15 tackles (11 solo) and one pass defensed in three career postseason games (2 starts).
“I feel as though they wanted to keep me for special-teams play, especially being a leader out there alongside ‘Wood’ (LB Wesley Woodyard) on the special-teams front,” Bruton said. “Being able to step in there and play whenever my number is called, whether I need to start throughout the playoffs and the last game of the season or come in on certain packages, I feel like they have unwavering faith that I can go out there and play no matter what the situation is.”