Broncos' moves open up cap space

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

The purge has begun in Denver.

The word around the organization was that the bloodletting would be severe in Denver and it began with a bang Monday. The team cut six players and saved more than $25 million in salary cap space in the process. The Broncos, who cut several lower level, low pay players last week, now have more than $28 million in cap space with the number fluctuating nearly on a daily basis.

These moves mean Denver will have plenty of room to pick up some key free agents once free agency begins Feb. 27. Denver will need to add several defensive players. Four of the players cut were starters at least part of the season in 2008.

The cut players were defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson, defensive end John Engelberger, linebacker Jamie Winborn, safety Marquand Manuel, linebacker Niko Koutouvides and tight end Nate Jackson.

The cuts illustrate the rough free agency period Denver had in 2008. The team drafted very well last season but made several mistakes in free agency. Koutouvides and Manuel were brought in through free agency and Engelberger and Jackson were both re-signed by Denver last year. Robertson was brought in through a draft day eve trade with the Jets. Denver won't owe New York any compensation for Robertson. His release alone gives Denver more than $16 million in cap relief.

Several of these players played significant time but they were not effective and it was clear Denver was going to have to replace them. The Broncos will likely need five or six new starters and these cuts were the beginning of the change in Denver on the defensive side of the ball.

The team may also soon cut cornerback Dre' Bly. His release would clear several million alone.

Expect Denver, which has cash issues like many teams around the league during this economic downturn, to try to get at least a couple of defensive starters (there are needs on all three phases of the unit). The Broncos could be intrigued by a big name free agent, but Monday's purge shows the Broncos needs for quantity as much as quality this offseason.