There goes our #1 RB
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
The Broncos' decision to release Travis Henry this morning has been coming for months. Broncos' insiders said the team had been unhappy with Henry virtually all spring. In a rare statement about a released player, Denver coach Mike Shanahan made a point to say Henry had a lack of "commitment" to the team.
The final straw came in the past week when Henry stopped attending the team's OTA sessions. Yes, Henry was hurt with a hamstring injury he suffered 17 days ago, but injured players are required to show up for work. Henry didn't. Perhaps he was upset that he knew he had to fight for playing time with Selvin Young, Ryan Torain and Michael Pittman. Whatever the reason, the team tired of Henry's lack of dedication.
The Henry experience in Denver was one giant disaster. After signing a five-year deal with more than $12 million in bonuses, Henry's days in Denver began to get rocky last August when it was disclosed in a Georgia court that he had fathered nine children with nine different mothers in a six-year span.
In early October, the Broncos received a major distraction when it was disclosed that Henry had tested positive for marijuana use and was subject to a one-year NFL suspension. Henry was leading the NFL in rushing after four games at the time of the bombshell. After two long months of distractions, Henry won an appeal of the suspension. Still, he was never the same running back after the story broke. He didn't have a 100-yard game the rest of the season and was plagued by nagging injuries.
The Broncos decided to keep Henry this offseason but reduced his salary to $1 million. Denver's decision to sign Pittman last week was a sign the team was moving toward this move.
Monday, it did. It will be a surprise if Henry ever plays in the NFL again.
With Henry one strike away from a year's suspension and with all the bad publicity, teams will not want to sign this player who at 29 is showing signs of wear and tear. Shaun Alexander, who has no off-field issues hovering over his head, can't get a job, so Henry will be especially challenged finding work. The only chance Henry gets a job is if a desperate team wants him and he agrees to a minimum salary.
This is truly a shame. Henry came to Denver with a lot of promise. He fit the Broncos' zone-blocking system and the team was fully committed to him, but he made one mistake after another.
Travis Henry gone forever
Also from ESPN:
"Although Travis has the ability to be one of the top running backs in the NFL, we have to make decisions that are in the best interests of our organization and its goal of winning a Super Bowl," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said in a statement. "We did not feel his commitment to the Broncos was enough to warrant a spot on this football team."
Henry, who was signed by the Broncos as a free agent in March 2007, rushed for 691 yards on 167 carries with four touchdowns in 12 games in his only season with the team.
Henry, who suffered a hamstring injury last month while running sprints, has been slow to heal and the team did not expect him to return to offseason workouts until this week. Still, the addition last week of former Buccaneers running back Michael Pittman indicated Henry wasn't going to be a major factor in Denver's plans in 2008.
Henry signed a five-year, $22.5 million deal in 2007 and was considered to be the running back who would be the perfect fit for Shanahan's running offense. Included in the deal was a $6 million signing bonus. Henry restructured his contract after the season and took more than $11 million in pay reductions.
The move put his contract in very simple terms: He was making $1 million a year in base and $100,000 annually in workout bonuses. Financially, the Broncos had him as a starting running back at backup money. But apparently, Henry's off-the-field issues outweighed the finances and he was released.
Henry led the league in rushing after the first month of the '07 season before leg injuries and off-the-field troubles took their toll. He spent several weeks fighting the NFL over a failed drug test that would have carried a one-year ban, and he never recovered from knee injuries as the Broncos missed the playoffs with a 7-9 record.
In seven seasons with the Broncos, Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills, Henry has three 1,000-yard seasons to his credit, 6,086 career rushing yards and 40 touchdowns. Henry was a Pro Bowl selection in 2002 when he rushed for 1,438 yards and 13 touchdowns for Buffalo.