D.J. Williams unlikely to return to Broncos next season

Q: Plenty of people chime in about which free agents or draft picks the Broncos might sign, but ... which Broncos players do you see leaving this season, from retirement, free agency, trades or cuts?

A: Jim, certainly when you talk about familiar faces who are expected to play elsewhere in the coming season, linebacker D.J. Williams comes to mind for the Broncos.

Williams is headed into his 10th season. He has had some off-the-field troubles. His playing time has diminished. And he has had knee and shoulder injuries along the way. Williams is also headed into the last year of the five-year, $32 million deal the team signed him to in 2009.

A look at the figures shows his contract also has an $8.08 million salary-cap hit that includes a $6 million base salary. Those figures are far too big for a player who was on the field for spot duty only last season after he returned from back-to-back suspensions that kept him out of nine games.

If Williams is released — the Broncos will try to see if there is a trade market for him first — there would be some "dead" money from the contract on their salary cap for this season (charges that count when the player is no longer on the roster). Williams would still count $2.0825 million against the cap if he were released, but they would still pick up $6 million in salary-cap room along the way.

The Broncos aren't in a position to release anyone they see as a key contributor because they have managed their cap situation well, even with a signing like Peyton Manning last season.

They have very little dead money on the books for 2013 — just under $1 million worth of dead-money charges.

All of that means the Broncos can make football decisions when looking at their roster instead of being forced to make only salary-cap decisions. They can re-sign the free agents they'd like to keep.

At some point they would approach veterans like Champ Bailey and Elvis Dumervil about re-configuring their contracts if they feel like they need some additional salary-cap relief in some way. The Broncos have already talked to Dumervil's representatives. Dumervil ($13.623 million) and Bailey ($10.5 million) have the second- and third-highest cap figures on the team, respectively, after Manning.

Bailey's deal runs through 2014 and includes a roster bonus this year for $500,000. Dumervil's deal runs through 2015.

Overall, they have 12 unrestricted free agents. Among that list not expected to be back is defensive tackle Ty Warren. Warren played just five plays with most of two seasons spent on injured reserve.

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