Denver Broncos Address Crowded Backfield, Release Veteran McGahee

Move Saves Team $2.5 Million Dollars

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | The murky situation in the Denver Broncos backfield heading into the 2013 season was cleared up somewhat on Thursday, as the team announced it has released running back Willis McGahee.

The move comes on the final day of the team's mandatory offseason program which McGahee did attend after skipping ten voluntary workouts, opting to spend his offseason training and recovering from knee surgery in Miami. McGahee tore the MCL in his right knee in Week 11 last season. Before the injury, McGahee rushed for 731 yards and four touchdowns.

The move saves the team $2.5 million in salary cap space, and gives them nearly $10.5 million with which to work to sign their top three draft picks. Starting left tackle Ryan Clady is also hunting for a new deal and has yet to sign his franchise tender entering the season.

With two-time Pro Bowler McGahee galloping out of Denver, the race for the starting spot in the backfield appears to be down to three, with Knowshon Moreno, Montee Ball, and Ronnie Hillman still looking to win the spot with the first team. The depth at the position is a major benefit for the team moving forward, giving them the flexibility to let their leading rusher the last two seasons walk away.

Ball, the second round draft pick out of Wisconsin, has earned positive reviews in his first offseason training activities as a pro. He has taken first team reps at OTAs and right now looks to be the favorite to earn the starting job by opening day. Hillman has also turned heads after packing on some muscle mass in the offseason to address his oft maligned blocking woes, but will likely be used more as a change of pace back, capitalizing on his amazing speed as a compliment to Ball's straight ahead running style. Moreno ended last season with the starting role, rushing for 510 yards on 130 carries with three touchdowns over the last six games, but a career riddled with injuries has derailed the former first round pick thus far.

As for McGahee, the 31-year old runner could find himself on another roster before the season starts. Teams like the Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, and Miami Dolphins are somewhat thin at the position and could use a proven commodity to bolster their backfield depth. McGahee's thirty-three career 100 yard rushing games leads all active running backs.

Andrew Majors lives in Denver and is an award-winning journalist who has previously worked as a sports editor, columnist, and freelance digital publisher. You can follow him on Twitter here .

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