PED Suspensions Could Shape Free-Agency Plans

D.J. Williams

WILLIAMS: ... suspension, if upheld, could change Broncos' free-agent plans at LB.

DENVER – Much of the football-loving segment of the Rocky Mountain population is either giddy or rankled over the notion of Peyton Manning becoming the Broncos’ starting quarterback and usurping Tim Tebow.

But the other story of Friday might prove just as crucial to the Broncos’ immediate future — the suspensions of D.J. Williams, Ryan McBean and Virgil Green for violations of the NFL’s performance-enhancing substance policy.

Williams and McBean will serve six-game suspensions — if they are upheld. Williams asserted in a statement that the NFL contends that his specimen was “non-human” raises myriad questions that will likely be left to the courts to unravel.

McBean and Williams were both arrested last year, for stalking and DUI, respectively. McBean’s charges were dropped, but the initial report was an embarrassment for an organization still scrubbing away the mess left by previous regimes and the miscreants who stained the organization and shamed the community at large.

Now questions rise anew. With McBean a restricted free agent, it’s logical to wonder whether he might be back at all after serving the suspension.

The potential suspension of Williams, on the other hand, could force the Broncos to think twice about their moves at linebacker in free agency. Wesley Woodyard filled in for the injured Williams last September, but is set to become a free agent and is expected to test the market looking for a full-time starting position that hasn’t been available in Denver.

Although Woodyard is smaller than Williams, he’s faster and proved in the final moments against Cincinnati last September that he can make significant, game-altering plays. If Williams’s legal action fails, the Broncos need another quality weakside linebacker, and to let Woodyard walk means they might be starting from zero.

VIRGIL GREEN, on the other hand, appears to have simply made an innocent mistake. On his Twitter feed, he told fans that his positive test was because of ADHD medication that he had been taking prior to his pro career — but had not received approval for in the NFL.

Most teams tell players that if they’re taking any kind of medication — for anything from chronic illnesses to a cold — that they should check with the athletic trainers or team doctors first. Even a drug as common as Sudafed can trigger a positive test because of the pseudoephedrine it contains.

Green will now have to sit out the first four games of 2012. With Dante Rosario and Daniel Fells set to hit the open market next week, Julius Thomas is the only tight end the Broncos are assured of having in uniform when the season begins — assuming he stays injury-free.

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About Andrew Mason

Andrew Mason has covered the NFL since 1999, when he worked as an editor on NFL.com when the site was managed by ESPN.com. He worked six seasons (2002-07) covering the Broncos on their official website and two (2008-09) on the Panthers' site. He began MaxDenver.com in 2010 and now contributes to CBSSports.com, The Sporting News and The New York Times.

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