Lynch leaves Broncos, weighs options on and off field

Longtime star safety John Lynch is leaving the Denver Broncos.

The likely Pro Football Hall of Famer made his decision Wednesday afternoon after pondering his future for the past 24 hours. Lynch, who will turn 37 in September, confirmed his departure to Denver television station KCNC and the Rocky Mountain News; Lynch appears on a KCNC show. Lynch has aspirations to do television work after his playing days.

"I'm going to explore all of my opportunities," Lynch said Wednesday night, according to the newspaper. "Is it retirement? Maybe. Is it playing for another team? Maybe. [Coach] Mike [Shanahan] has given me the opportunity to explore that and that's what I'm going to do. But I won't be playing for the Broncos."

The 16-season veteran is leaving the Broncos, two sources close to the situation said, because he is unhappy with his role. He has been working with the first-team defense in the first week of training camp but not in nickel and dime defensive packages. He has admitted that not playing significantly bothered him.

"I had a good meeting with Mike [Wednesday]," Lynch said, according to the Rocky Mountain News. "There are no hard feelings, I'm just looking at what's out there. In my heart I want to play, but I need to look at everything right now and that's what I'm doing. Is playing still part of that? I really have to look at that and see."

Lynch nearly retired this winter but he came back to the team when Denver owner Pat Bowlen urged him to return. Last week, Shanahan said Lynch had no guarantees to play. Lynch missed a team meeting Tuesday night and didn't practice Wednesday. Shanahan said Lynch was excused from practice for personal reasons. The Broncos have not commented on Lynch's departure.

Lynch has made nine Pro Bowls overall and all four years he was in Denver. Lynch spent his first 11 NFL seasons in Tampa Bay, where he was a key figure in the team's Super Bowl win in January 2003. He was released by Tampa Bay after the 2003 season in which he had neck surgery.

Lynch came to Denver and made an immediate impact on the Broncos' defense and in the Denver community, as he had in Tampa Bay.