Denver Broncos release running back Willis McGahee

06/13/2013 5:15 PM ET
By Michael Tanowitz

Willis McGahee is gone from Denver after two seasons with the Broncos.(AP)
The Denver Broncos have released running back Willis McGahee, cutting ties with the man who has started 23 of 32 games in the backfield for them over the last two seasons.

McGahee, 31, is coming off offseason knee surgery and skipped all 10 of the Broncos’ voluntary OTAs over the last month, but proclaimed himself 100 percent before reporting for mandatory minicamp on Tuesday.

"It's never easy to part ways with a veteran player who made so many positive contributions to our team and community," Broncos executive vice president of football operations John Elway said in a statement. "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."

McGahee was not surprised by the release.

"I knew it was going to happen. It is what it is. They are going younger," McGahee told ESPN. “"I don't have anything against the people behind me. Now they have the opportunity. I wish them nothing but the best of luck. They're all good kids.”

Second-year pro Ronnie Hillman, who rushed for 327 yards last season, and rookie Montee Ball, the team’s second-round draft pick this past April who holds the NCAA Division I FBS career record for touchdown rushes, have received most of the work this offseason in McGahee’s absence, and will likely lead the team’s depth chart going forward.

The Broncos also have former first-round pick Knowshon Moreno on the roster, among others.

McGahee was limited to 731 yards and four touchdowns in 10 games for the Broncos last year, but that came on the heels of a stellar 2011 campaign that saw him rush for 1,199 yards and four scores en route to the Pro Bowl.

He was set to make $2.5 million with the Broncos in 2013.

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