Denver begins D-line reconstruction

March, 3, 2011
3/03/11
5:45
PM ET
The new Denver Broncos’ brass continued to say good-bye to expensive aging players.

A day after tight end Daniel Graham was cut, the team waived defensive lineman Justin Bannan and Jamal Williams. Both players were signed last year by former coach Josh McDaniels.

It is not surprising since the Broncos are moving from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense. Denver did indicate last month that Bannan could be kept, but it is clear Denver is looking for wholesale changes on the defensive front.

Elvis Dumervil and Robert Ayers -- linebackers in the 3-4 -- will be rush ends, but otherwise there will be major changes on the front four. Marcus Thomas, who was given a restricted free agency tender this week, could return at defensive tackle. Denver is expected to seriously consider defensive linemen Da'Quan Bowers, Marcell Dareus and Nick Fairley with the No. 2 pick in the draft.

Thursday’s moves shows that the Broncos are not interested in players who are poor fits for the new defense. Denver will concentrate on defense in the draft and in free agency since the Broncos were last in total defense and points allowed in 2010.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Williams, a former San Diego great, decides to retire at the age of 34.

The next tough decision may be safety Brian Dawkins. He is 37 and his play slipped in an injury-plagued 2010 season. Plus, he is very expensive. I wouldn’t be shocked if he was the next to go, although new Denver coach John Fox does respect him.

Meanwhile, running back Laurence Maroney wasn’t tendered by the Broncos. He is a free agent and is not expected to be back. Denver gave up a fourth-round pick for him last season and he had little impact on the team.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter

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