Denver Broncos: Which Players on 45-Man Roster Won't Be Back Next Season

Clint DalyContributor IIFebruary 17, 2012

Denver Broncos: Which Players on 45-Man Roster Won't Be Back Next Season

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    The National Football League is a tough place to make a living.

    With the average career lasting just 3.5 years, it's a cutthroat workplace where only the strongest survive.

    The 2011 Denver Broncos have a number of holes to fill if they are going to improve, and as a result, there will be a few players who will no longer be with the team in 2012.

    Here are five players on the current roster who may have played their last games with the Broncos.

5. Matthew Willis

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    Matt Willis has shown an ability to make a tough catch, but the Broncos clearly need more help at the wide receiver position.

    If they bring in a few receivers this offseason, Willis may be the odd man out.

    Willis is currently a restricted free agent, meaning that the Broncos would be able to match any offer. But, considering that they have already signed wide receiver Jason Hill, they may have already set their sights elsewhere.

4. Brian Dawkins

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    Brian Dawkins is without a doubt a quality team leader and has been a force in the NFL for 16 seasons.

    However, a neck injury at a position where hitting full speed is crucial, looks like it may force him into retirement.

    The 38-year-old Dawkins sat out the final three games of the season this year and missed significant time in two others.

    Neck injuries are a scary thing for anyone. Here's hoping that Dawkins is healthy. If not, he may have played his final game in the NFL.

3. Brady Quinn

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    The Broncos need a savvy veteran to back up their young quarterback, Tim Tebow, in 2012.

    Brady Quinn is a free agent who doesn't have all that much more experience than Tebow.

    If the Broncos are able to land a veteran quarterback, it won't make much sense to keep Quinn around.

    It could be the same result if the Broncos use a draft pick on a quarterback.

    Either way, Brady Quinn may be done in Denver.

2. Joe Mays

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    Joe Mays has been a serviceable middle linebacker, but the Broncos need an upgrade.

    Mays is a free agent who is solid in the run game, but rarely even sees the field in passing situations.

    Look for the Broncos to take a shot at drafting an inside linebacker with more versatility than Mays.

    Dont'a Hightower from Alabama, and Vontaze Burfict from Arizona State, would be ideal options.

1. Knowshon Moreno

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    No, Knowshon isn't a free agent.

    He actually signed a five-year rookie contract when he was drafted in 2009, worth $16.7 million dollars. 

    So, why would he be gone?

    Well for starters, Knowshon Moreno can't seem to stay healthy. He has missed 12 games in the past two seasons.

    He has also shown a tendency toward fumbling, coughing up the ball eight times in his 36 game career.

    And now he gets popped for a DUI?

    NFL contracts are not guaranteed. If the Broncos draft a high ranking running back to pair with Willis McGahee, Moreno may want to start packing his bags.