ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Executive Vice President/General Manager John Elway opted to forego picking up the fifth-year option on Sylvester Williams, which will make him an unrestricted free agent next year unless a contract extension is signed.
Had the Broncos chosen to pick up the option, the money would have been guaranteed only for injury until the start of the 2017 league year, at which point it would have become fully guaranteed.
Elway indicated after the NFL Draft on Saturday that Williams' role might be too limited to justify a potential one-year salary of approximately $6.75 million, which is where he believed Williams' number would fall if the Broncos picked up the option.
"It's a big [cap] number," Elway said on Saturday. "We'd like to have him back, but that's what we were trying to figure out, if that number makes sense."
Williams started 18 of 19 games last year, but worked mostly in the base package on first and second downs, with three/five-technique ends like Derek Wolfe, Vance Walker, Antonio Smith and Malik Jackson handling the vast majority of sub-package work.
As a result, he played 48.7 percent of the downs in the regular season and 40.2 percent of the defensive snaps in the playoffs. Wolfe played 112 more regular-season snaps than Williams in spite of missing four games due to a suspension.