Broncos release Joe Mays

The Denver Broncos on Tuesday released linebacker Joe Mays, who was limited to six games last season after breaking his left leg in late October.

The team made the announcement through their Twitter account.

Mays, 28, had a rough 2012 after signing a three-year, $12 million deal before last season. He was suspended for a game and docked $50,000 for an illegal hit on Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub and lost his starting middle linebacker job to veteran Keith Brooking after a poor performance by the defense in a 31-21 loss at New England.

Brooking is a free agent. Second-year linebacker Nate Irving is reportedly a strong candidate to start at middle linebacker this season.

Mays fractured the fibula just above his left ankle while blocking for punt returner Trindon Holliday in the fourth quarter of a Week 8 game vs. the Saints when a New Orleans player inadvertently leg-whipped him.

The Broncos reportedly tried to trade Mays during April's NFL draft but found no takers. He was scheduled to make $4 million this season, according to ESPN.com's John Clayton.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.