Shanahan wouldn't waive the fines Lelie accrued during his holdout from a minicamp in July and all of training camp, and he even made Lelie agree to pay them back before he would trade the disgruntled receiver. Lelie, whose base salary this year is $600,000, racked up about $1 million in fines before being sent to Atlanta in a three-team deal on Aug. 22.
"We would not have released him unless he would have agreed to it and signed a contract to do it," Shanahan said.
The Broncos haven't had many holdouts in Shanahan's tenure, and don't have much patience when problems arise. When Clinton Portis was threatening a holdout over his contract, the Broncos traded him to Washington for cornerback Champ Bailey.
Trading Lelie accomplished a few things. It got rid of a distraction in the locker room. Also, the Broncos got some value for a player in the last year of his contract who was adamant he wouldn't play for Denver anymore. But by publicly stating that Lelie would have to pay back the fines, Shanahan was also able to maybe pre-empt any other holdouts.
Lelie was traded to Atlanta, running back T.J. Duckett was sent to Washington and the Redskins gave up draft pick consideration to Denver in the trade. The draft considerations the Broncos get are the equivalent of a high third-round pick.
In the complicated formula, the Broncos' best-case scenario is switching first-round picks with Washington and moving up as many as 11 spots in the first round. In the worst-case scenario, the Broncos finish behind Washington this season and get the Redskins' 2007 third-round pick and a fourth-rounder in 2008. The Broncos could also swap first-rounders and pick up Washington's third-rounder in another scenario.
Broncos' players weren't surprised Lelie was traded. Lelie, who was holding out because he wanted to be a No. 1 receiver and didn't think he would get that chance in Denver, held out all off-season. He requested a trade shortly after the season ended, but the Broncos waited for the right deal to come along.
Denver felt good with its depth at receiver and when it was offered the equivalent of what it wanted for Lelie, a high third-round pick, the Broncos pulled the trigger.
"It's good to have a guy like that on your team but if he wants to go elsewhere, grant his wishes," cornerback Champ Bailey said. "That's what happened."
--RB Cedric Cobbs is gaining ground in the competition to win a roster spot. Cobbs is having a good preseason, and Ron Dayne and Damien Nash have been hurt. Cobbs could end up beating out Dayne, a starter at the beginning of training camp, for the third tailback job and a roster spot.
--WR Brandon Marshall, a rookie who could be Denver's third receiver, is recovering well from a knee injury he suffered in Denver's first preseason game. He could be back for the preseason finale.
--QB Jake Plummer is quietly having a good preseason. Plummer is very comfortable in the offense. He also might feel a lot less pressure during the preseason because all eyes are on first-round pick Jay Cutler.
--DT Gerard Warren should be back by Denver's season opener. He dislocated a toe early in camp but is feeling good. He is important to the middle of Denver's defense.
--WR David Kircus has had a good camp and preseason. Kircus has a chance to be Denver's third receiver, especially if Brandon Marshall isn't 100 percent after suffering a knee injury.
--TE Tony Scheffler has lived up to his billing as a second-round pick. After the second week of preseason games, Scheffler was second in the NFL in receiving yards. He will be a big part of Denver's offense in two-tight end sets. Opponents will have a tough time matching up with him.
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