Monday, June 2, 2008

Bill Williamson with more on Henry

Posted by's Bill Williamson
The Broncos' decision to release Travis Henry this morning has been coming for months. Broncos' insiders said the team had been unhappy with Henry virtually all spring. In a rare statement about a released player, Denver coach Mike Shanahan made a point to say Henry had a lack of "commitment" to the team.

The final straw came in the past week when Henry stopped attending the team's OTA sessions. Yes, Henry was hurt with a hamstring injury he suffered 17 days ago, but injured players are required to show up for work. Henry didn't. Perhaps he was upset that he knew he had to fight for playing time with Selvin Young, Ryan Torain and Michael Pittman. Whatever the reason, the team tired of Henry's lack of dedication.

The Henry experience in Denver was one giant disaster. After signing a five-year deal with more than $12 million in bonuses, Henry's days in Denver began to get rocky last August when it was disclosed in a Georgia court that he had fathered nine children with nine different mothers in a six-year span.

In early October, the Broncos received a major distraction when it was disclosed that Henry had tested positive for marijuana use and was subject to a one-year NFL suspension. Henry was leading the NFL in rushing after four games at the time of the bombshell. After two long months of distractions, Henry won an appeal of the suspension. Still, he was never the same running back after the story broke. He didn't have a 100-yard game the rest of the season and was plagued by nagging injuries.

The Broncos decided to keep Henry this offseason but reduced his salary to $1 million. Denver's decision to sign Pittman last week was a sign the team was moving toward this move.

Monday, it did. It will be a surprise if Henry ever plays in the NFL again.

With Henry one strike away from a year's suspension and with all the bad publicity, teams will not want to sign this player who at 29 is showing signs of wear and tear. Shaun Alexander, who has no off-field issues hovering over his head, can't get a job, so Henry will be especially challenged finding work. The only chance Henry gets a job is if a desperate team wants him and he agrees to a minimum salary.

This is truly a shame. Henry came to Denver with a lot of promise. He fit the Broncos' zone-blocking system and the team was fully committed to him, but he made one mistake after another.

More from Mr. Williamson:
The Broncos may move on from Travis Henry in-house. The team signed veteran Michael Pittman last week in anticipation that they may have cut ties with Henry.

Pittman, although he'll turn 33 in August, excites the Broncos because of his skills as a third-down player. Pittman blocks well, can catch passes out of the backfield and is a hard-nosed runner. Pittman has a reputation for being a gamer and for loving the game. He replaces Henry, who was likely going to be Denver's short-yardage back, who stopped attending the team's OTA sessions while being injured in recent weeks.

Henry wasn't going to start and neither will Pittman. It appears second-year player Selvin Young has the inside track to be the starter. Still, the speedster is not a bell-cow back and he'll need help. A sleeper to keep an eye on his fifth-round pick Ryan Torain [edit note: since when is a Denver running back drafted before the 6th round considered a sleeper? That guy's guaranteed 1,200 yards sometime in the next four years]. The team has been very impressed with him thus far and expects him to be a factor. Andre Hall also excites the team.

Denver, which doesn't have much money left, could look at outside help but the Pittman signing pretty much was the addition to offset the Henry release. Guys like Kevin Jones or Shaun Alexander could interest Denver down the road but right now, it seems like the Broncos are happy with their post-Henry backfield.

No comments: