T.J. Ward heads to Buccaneers on one-year deal after shocking Broncos release

Posted at 11:00 AM, Sep 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-03 13:12:58-04

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- From Ugh to Arrrgh!

T.J. Ward's unemployment lasted 13 hours. The former Broncos Pro Bowl safety agreed to a one-year deal that can reach $5 million with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Reached by text Sunday morning, Ward confirmed the deal to Denver7 and again thanked all of those who have supported him. Ward became expendable with the development of Justin Simmons, his replacement, Will Parks and undrafted rookie Jamal Carter. 

Ward, 30, was due to make $4.5 million in the final year of his contract with the Broncos. However, none of it was guaranteed. In going to Tampa Bay, Ward can recoup his money, while adding a physical element and leadership to a team looking to reach the next level. Seven teams expressed interest, including the Steelers. 

"It's going to work out for me, you can believe that," Ward told Denver7 earlier in the week as he braced for his exit. 

Broncos general manager John Elway explained Sunday that parting with Ward was difficult, but a football decision. The Broncos never approached Ward about a paycut. They trusted what they saw from Simmons, especially his improvement in the run game, to part ways with Ward. It didn't go over well with teammates, something Elway can relate to. 

“I was in that locker room. I didn’t agree with every move that management made,” Elway said. “You create those relationships in that locker room. That’s important. And T.J. was a big part of that. I could tell you how many friends and people I had cut over the course of my career, and I didn’t agree with all of them. But, you know, that’s part of it. They understand, at least I hope they understand, that we’ve got to do what’s best for the Denver Broncos."