Broncos release Henry after one disappointing season

Updated: June 2, 2008, 8:21 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Big expectations in Denver for Travis Henry ended Monday when the Broncos released the running back one season into his five-year free-agent deal.

"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."

Later Monday, Shanahan said the move was more about Henry's personality than his play.

"He's just too inconsistent as a person. When you're too inconsistent as a person, you usually aren't going to win championships," Shanahan said during a spring workout later in the day.

"I'm not going to get into details what he did do or didn't do. You have to do little things. If you don't do the little things, obviously you can't count on somebody. So that's why he's released."

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.

Pittman said he didn't know Henry would be cut loose.

"That's all in-house. I knew nothing about this until a few minutes ago," he said.

"I didn't wish for Travis to be released. I would never wish that upon anybody. I'm always here to compete. I am a competitor. With Travis still here, I would have competed against him," Pittman said.

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.

Shanahan said he supported Henry during the failed test because he believed his player was innocent.

"That's not the case here," Shanahan said.

Henry's agent, Hadley Englehard, was out of the country and did not return The Associated Press' telephone and e-mail messages.

Running back Andre Hall said Henry "brought it on himself."

Asked to explain, Hall said, "I really can't say too much. I don't know too much about what's going on, what happened. I guess he had a hamstring injury. I know he's supposed to be out here. He's not hurt."

Hall, Selvin Young and rookie Ryan Torain were getting extra carries in Henry's absence.

Shanahan said he feels good about the running backs that remain.

"We have a lot of guys going in the right direction. We have a tailback coming back that averaged 5.2 yards a carry [Selvin Young] and some other guys that I have a lot of confidence," he said.

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.

Information from ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton and The Associated Press was used in this report.