DENVER (CBS4/AP) – D.J. Williams is no longer a Bronco. The team released him on Monday, a day before the start of the NFL’s free agency period.

Williams was tied with Champ Bailey as the longest tenured member of the team. Williams, an alum of the University of Miami, was drafted by the Broncos in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft with the No. 17 pick.

Williams had to sit out the first nine games of last season while serving two consecutive suspensions. One six game suspension was for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs and the other was for an alcohol-related arrest.

Linebackers Wesley Woodyard and Keith Brooking took on bigger roles in Williams’ absence.

Over the years with the Broncos Williams started at the weakside, middle, strongside and inside linebacker.

“We appreciate the contributions made by D.J. Williams during his time with the Broncos. 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,” John Elway said in a prepared statement.

Williams turns 31 this summer and is sure to draw interest on the open market but he is coming off a season in which he collected just 14 tackles in seven games and only made one start because of his two suspensions that cost him about $4 million in salary and relegated him to playing on special teams and in sub packages upon his return in November.

The Broncos released the following statistics about Williams’ career to date in the NFL:

– 127 career regular-season games
– 115 starts
– 886 tackles (673 solo)
– 20.5 sacks
– Two interceptions
– 41 passes defensed
– 14 forced fumbles
– Seven fumble recoveries.
– Opened five-of-six postseason contests for the Broncos, contributing 40 tackles (23 solo), 0.5 sacks (3.5 avg.) and three passes defensed
– One of just five NFL players during the last nine seasons to post at least 800 tackles and 20 sacks

The Broncos also released third quarterback Caleb Hanie, who didn’t take a single snap in his one season in Denver last year behind Peyton Manning and his backup, rookie Brock Osweiler.

The Broncos also have asked Pro Bowl defensive end Elvis Dumervil to take a pay cut. If not, he’ll be traded or released before Saturday when his $12 million salary for 2013 becomes guaranteed. Dumervil is also due $10 million in 2014 and $8 million in 2015.

If Dumervil follows Williams out the door, the Broncos will have some big shoes to fill on a defense that was one of the NFL’s stingiest last season.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.) 


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