On Tuesday, we pointed out that running back Willis McGahee didn’t get many reps upon his return to the Broncos after skipping the voluntary portion of the offseason schedule working out on his own.
Those reps won’t be going up anytime soon. Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the Broncos have released McGahee. McGahee alluded to the possibility that he’d be asked to turn in his playbook earlier this week, saying that “if something happens, it happens” when asked about the competition at running back in Denver.
McGahee’s departure signals confidence in that competition, particularly Ronnie Hillman and rookie Montee Ball. They’ve gotten the majority of work with the first team this spring with McGahee in Miami and Knowshon Moreno rehabbing his own knee injury, but it was widely expected that the Broncos would wait until training camp before making any decisions about the future of the two missing veterans. That proved incorrect and McGahee’s $2.5 million salary for the coming season may have also played a role in the decision to cut ties now.
McGahee is 31 and coming off a knee injury of his own, but he’ll still likely draw interest from teams looking for help in the backfield. He’s a more appealing prospect than other veteran free agents like Brandon Jacobs and Michael Turner and brings a more versatile skill set with him than Cedric Benson, although the experience of other older backs this offseason suggests it won’t be a stampede for McGahee’s services.
UPDATE 10:55 a.m. ET: The Broncos have officially announced the move.
“It’s never easy to part ways with a veteran player who made so many positive contributions to our team and community,” John Elway said in a statement. “I appreciate all of the competitiveness, toughness and leadership Willis brought to the Broncos. He was an integral part of our team’s turnaround during the past two seasons, and I wish him the best as he continues his NFL career.”