Wilson was informed by the Broncos that he will be released. He had been the Broncos' middle linebacker since 1999 and a defensive captain since 2001. He made the Pro Bowl last season, his fifth.
But a few things went into the Broncos' decision. They spent a lot of money retooling their team this offseason, and Wilson had a $5.2 million base salary. Wilson will turn 30 this year, and he is coming off a neck injury.
Wilson said he understood the Broncos' move was just part of the business.
"I've had a great time here," Wilson said. "Like any Fortune 500 company, any major corporation, sometimes you have to let good employees go."
Wilson's next step is getting medical clearance to play. He was almost traded to the New York Giants last month, but didn't pass a physical. Wilson has met with Dr. Robert Watkins, a neck specialist in Los Angeles.
Wilson said he thinks he can play a few more years, but won't put his health at risk. He was carted off the field after spraining his neck last Dec. 3 against Seattle, but didn't miss any games. Looking back, he said it might have been a mistake to rush back.
"Maybe I should have sat out a week or two," Wilson said. "But the competitive nature in me, I want to go out and compete."
Wilson was upbeat at his press conference. He said nobody should be sad, but to remember his career with the Broncos positively.
"It's a celebration," Wilson said.
--The Broncos lost a starter in free agency when right guard Cooper Carlisle signed with the Raiders. In reality, the move wasn't a big blow. Because the Broncos like young guards Chris Kuper and Chris Myers, and signed free agent guard Montrae Holland, Carlisle wasn't going to be re-signed. Carlisle started all 32 games for the Broncos the past two years.
--The Broncos made a somewhat surprising move, bringing back receiver David Terrell. Terrell, a former first-round pick of Chicago, was with the Broncos in 2005 and appeared in one game. He was a disappointment in training camp last year, as he never challenged for the third receiver job and was cut before the season.
--The NFL released its schedule, and the Broncos have five prime-time games on the schedule. The final prime-time game is a Monday night game on Dec. 24 at San Diego, ending a tough stretch for Denver that will likely determine its playoff fate. The Broncos play six road games in an eight-week stretch, before finishing the regular season at home against Minnesota.
--The Broncos have to figure out how to replace Al Wilson at middle linebacker. The most seamless transition would be giving Nate Webster the job. Webster backed up all three linebacker positions last year.
One possibility, however, is trying D.J. Williams in that spot. Williams has played outside linebacker his whole career, but is a remarkable athlete.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I gave them all I had. I can walk away with my head held high." -- Former Broncos linebacker Al Wilson.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
1. Defensive line: The Broncos came up short in their pursuit of free-agent end Patrick Kerney and tackle Dan Wilkinson didn't report after being traded. The Broncos landed former Brown Alvin McKinley in free agency, but the line is still an area of need. They are likely to invest in the line during the draft.
2. Linebacker: Denver lost its middle linebacker of the past eight years when it released Al Wilson. Denver could look at the draft or free agency to find some depth at linebacker. The Broncos don't have much experienced depth if Nate Webster goes into the starting lineup.
MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS --DT Michael Myers is a solid, steady performer in the middle. Quality defensive linemen usually get attention in free agency, so the Broncos will wait to see if it is prudent to re-sign him.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
--LB Louis Green: Potential RFA; 3 yrs, terms unknown.
--FB Kyle Johnson: RFA; terms unknown.
--WR Quincy Morgan: UFA; terms unknown.
--DT Kenny Peterson: UFA; terms unknown.
--FB Cecil Sapp: RFA; $1.3M/1 yr.
--CB Dre' Bly (trade Lions).
--TE Daniel Graham: UFA Patriots; $30M/5 yrs, $15M guaranteed.
--RB Travis Henry: FA Titans; 5 yrs, $12M guaranteed; other terms unknown.
--OG Montrae Holland: UFA Saints; $1M/1 yr, SB unknown.
--DT Alvin McKinley: UFA Browns; $8M/4 yrs, SB unknown.
--QB Patrick Ramsey: FA Jets; $4.5M/2 yrs, SB unknown.
--FB Paul Smith: UFA Rams; $2.55M/3 yrs, $300,000 SB.
--WR Brandon Stokley: FA Colts; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--WR David Terrell: FA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--RB Tatum Bell (traded Lions).
--DE Courtney Brown (released).
--LB Keith Burns: UFA; retired.
--OG Cooper Carlisle: UFA Raiders; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--DE Patrick Chukwurah: UFA Buccaneers; $5.5M/5 yrs, SB unknown.
--OT George Foster (traded Lions).
--RB Damien Nash (deceased).
--QB Jake Plummer (traded Buccaneers).
--CB Darrent Williams (deceased).
--LB Al Wilson (released).
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