Willis McGahee, starting running back, cut by the Broncos
The National Football League term OTAs stands for "organized team activities" -- and they're supposed to be voluntary. Still, starting Broncos running back Willis McGahee's decision to skip out on them earlier this year set tongues wagging about the prospect of him being punished for doing so.
Lo and behold, McGahee has now been cut.
But there are plenty of other reasons why McGahee was given his walking papers.
The timing of the move apparently caught the webmasters at DenverBroncos.com off-guard. Note that the announcement about McGahee currently appears directly above a video in which new offensive coordinator Adam Gase talks about what great shape he was in when he arrived at this week's mandatory camp, as seen in the following screen capture:
Nonetheless, McGahee's ouster isn't exactly shocking. He was a productive back during most of the two years he spent wearing orange, displaying more power and explosiveness than anticipated for a runner north of thirty -- qualities undermined but not entirely diminished by his unfortunate proclivity to cough up the ball.
But as noted by ESPN, he suffered a knee injury last season that put him on the shelf for the last portion of the season, including the playoffs, leaving the Broncos in such a dire situation that they were forced to hand the ball to Knowshon Moreno, widely regarded a bust (and another possibility for a pre-season cut).
If this turn of events didn't qualify as writing on the wall, Denver's drafting of Wisconsin's Montee Ball confirmed that McGahee fell short of top-priority status. Add the $2.5 million he was supposed to be paid this season, not to mention that OTAs absence, and even he expected the hammer to come down. He told ESPN, "I knew it was going to happen."
Team exec John Elway issued a nice statement about McGahee. It reads in part, "It's never easy to part ways with a veteran player who made so many positive contributions to our team and community. 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."
This last line isn't mere politeness: McGahee will be picked up by another franchise, giving him a chance to prove that he's not ready for the scrap heap. In the meantime, though, future players on the bubble should know that when it comes to staying on a roster, the word "voluntary" shouldn't be taken literally.
More from our Videos archive circa 2012: "Videos: Broncos' Willis McGahee gets body painted in Go Daddy spoof."