Broncos release Joel Dreessen

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Denver Broncos tight end Joel Dreessen had hoped his balky left knee would cooperate enough to get at least one more season with his home-state team.

But that wasn't the case Tuesday when the Broncos released the Fort Morgan, Colo., native after the ninth-year veteran failed his physical with the team. Broncos players are formally scheduled to report for training camp Wednesday with the team's first practice Thursday.

The move was expected by many in the Broncos' hierarchy given Dreessen, who turns 32 Sunday, did not participate in any of the team's offseason program after undergoing his third knee surgery of the last two offseasons combined earlier this year. Dreessen is believed to have had a microfracture procedure in the latest surgery.

Earlier in the offseason, during the team's OTAs, Dreessen said, "I hope I can keep working and get back on the field, that's what I want. You want to play for this team with all we can do in this offense.''

Dreessen, who also graduated from Colorado State, played in 13 games last season after he two knee operations in the months leading up to the 2013 campaign. He finished with seven catches at a crowded position (Julius Thomas emerged as the starter). It was Dreessen's lowest catch total since his four receptions in 2007, his first year with the Houston Texans.

Dreessen and fellow tight end Jacob Tamme were both signed as free agents in 2012 as the Broncos tried to gather more targets for Peyton Manning, who had been signed that March. This season was to be the final year of Dreessen's three-year, $8.5 million deal.

On the business side, Dreessen was set to count for $3.167 million against the salary cap, so the Broncos will have $666,668 dead money charge with Dreessen's release. But they also gain just over $2.5 million in cap space, something they will need if they still intend to sign wide receiver Demaryius Thomas to a long-term deal before the roster is cut to 53 players next month.

The Broncos now have 87 players on the roster, three under the limit of 90.