After all these years, there were never any slogans connecting the Denver D with D.J. and Dumervil.

There never will be, either.

The D in Denver's defense now stands for "different" after the Broncos on Monday released longtime linebacker D.J. Williams while contract talks with Elvis Dumervil may have reached a point of no return.

Williams' release was expected after he fell out of favor in 2012 and had an overvalued $6 million salary due in 2013. A starting linebacker from the time the Broncos selected him out of Miami with the No. 17 overall pick in the 2004 draft until he was slapped with two suspensions that cost him the first nine games of last season, Williams is now part of an NFL free-agent pool that opens for business at 2 p.m. MDT on Tuesday.

The Broncos have expressed interest in Pittsburgh running back Rashard Mendenhall, Jacksonville defensive tackle Terrance Knighton and possibly Philadelphia cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, among other free-agent players.

But they were also hoping to prevent Dumervil and their own defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson from entering free agency. With Dumervil, the contract squabble regards a pay cut. With Vickerson, the haggling is over a pay raise.

What a difference a decimal point makes. Vickerson wants a bump from the $1.2 million salary he made last year. Dumervil has agreed to restructure, but not cut, the $12 million salary he is owed in 2013. His salary would become guaranteed by Saturday, so the Broncos want to work out a reduced rate before then.


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Broncos chief contract negotiator Mike Sullivan and Dumervil's agent Marty Magid resumed discussions Monday but got no closer to a resolution.

Given the considerable difference in opinion, the pass-rushing defensive end is asking the team to release him before the free-agent market opens Tuesday, rather than wait until Saturday.

"We're at an impasse," Magid said. "There's no animosity whatsoever. Elvis understands this is a business. He'd still like to come back and play for the Broncos under his current contract or restructure proposal that we sent them.

"But if we can't reach common ground and you know as an organization that you're going to release him, then we'd like for them to release him by (2 p.m. MDT) and not wait another four days. No hard feelings. We disagree on their restructure option."

The Broncos, however, may want to use the next four days to either continue negotiating with Dumervil or find his replacement through free agency before releasing their seven-year defensive end and three-time Pro Bowler.

That maneuver in turn would cost Dumervil the first few days of free agency, when teams typically are more inclined to write its biggest checks.

In other moves Monday, the Broncos re-signed special teams standout David Bruton to a three-year, $4.5 million contract, and released backup quarterback Caleb Hanie.

Bruton, who is also a backup safety, could have tried to get a few more dollars in the free-agent market, but what price happiness?

"I've always wanted to stay in Denver since my rookie year," Bruton said in the first news conference of his now five-year Broncos career. "I fell in love with this place. I fell in love with the organization, how it's run. There's opportunities out there, there's always that chance, but I feel like being here in Denver, I need to make the most of my opportunities."

Hanie is a former Colorado State quarterback who was on the Broncos' roster last season but was never activated on the game-day roster as starter Peyton Manning was backed up by rookie Brock Osweiler.

Williams, 30, led the Broncos in tackles as a rookie and remained a starter until last season, when he was suspended six games for violating the league's performance-enhancement policy, and then another three games following a driving while ability impaired conviction.

Upon his return, Williams lost his starting outside linebacker position to Wesley Woodyard, and the Broncos plan to start Nate Irving at middle linebacker this season. Teams that may be interested in Williams include Oakland, Washington, Baltimore, New England and Atlanta.

Mike Klis: 303-954-1055, mklis@denverpost.com or twitter.com/mikeklis


Staying or leaving?

Negotiations continue: Defensive end Elvis Dumervil and defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson

Re-signed: Special-teams standout David Bruton for three years, $4.5 million

Released: Linebacker D.J. Williams and backup quarterback Caleb Hanie