The Denver Broncos made a bold move last week by cutting veteran safety T.J Ward and the decision has been met with backlash from many of the 30-year-old’s long-time teammates, who did not hide their views on the situation.
Linebacker Brandon Marshall was one of the first to speak on the incident, tweeting that letting Ward go would be a mistake, before Von Miller told ESPN that he didn’t think Ward should be going. From there, there was also an emoji reaction from cornerback Chris Harris.
The player himself was also critical of the handling of his exit from the Broncos, who feels the team handled his departure unprofessionally.
— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) September 4, 2017
Ward’s two years of service to the Broncos saw him become a favourite in Denver and it didn’t take too long for him to be snapped up elsewhere, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quickly signed the defensive ace down to a $5m one-year deal.
Broncos coach Vance Joseph has revealed he expected this sort of response from members of his side though, as Ward was a valuable member of the defensive line and stood as a respected member of the locker room.
Speaking to ESPN, the Broncos coach said:
“I would say so because he was obviously a valuable teammate to these guys. They won a lot of games together. It’s natural, it’s expected.”
“It’s a close-knit locker room. I wasn’t surprised to see guys saying, ‘Hey, we’re going to miss T.J. We don’t want him to go.’ That’s natural and it should be that way in the locker room, and if it’s not that would be concerning.”
The decision from the Broncos to release Ward comes down to a wealth of faith in younger safety Justin Simmons, 23, who’s set for his second-year in the NFL after making a big impression following his third-round selection in the 2016 draft.
Simmons secured 30 tackles in his debut season in the NFL, as well as four pass deflections and two interceptions.