Skip to main content

Broncos left tackle Lepsis retiring after 11 seasons

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos have more work to do in rebuilding their once-touted offensive line after left tackle Matt Lepsis told coach Mike Shanahan he's retiring.

Lepsis, who turns 34 this month, acknowledged his play slipped in his 11th season after returning from ACL surgery on his right knee. The operation ended his 2006 season shortly after he signed a four-year, $25 million contract extension.

"Mike would call me out for not playing very well, and I had to agree with him," Lepsis told The Denver Post. "... I didn't want to go make all that money and not give the team what I was supposed to."

Lepsis' agent, Ethan Lock, declined to comment Tuesday when reached by The Associated Press. Lepsis' decision leaves more than $9 million on the table.

Lepsis joined the Broncos as an undrafted free agent in 1997 after a standout career at the University of Colorado, where he was a tight end. He became a starter in 1999 and developed into one of the best left tackles in the NFL before tearing his right anterior cruciate ligament in the seventh game.

Lepsis said his knee held up this season. but his play slipped below his standard.

Among his potential replacements are Ryan Harris, a third-round draft pick from Notre Dame, and Chris Kuper, a former University of North Dakota standout who played left guard for the Broncos in 2007 after starter Ben Hamilton suffered a season-ending concussion in training camp.

Hamilton hopes to return next season, as does center Tom Nalen, who missed most of the season with a torn biceps and was replaced by Chris Myers.

Harris, a highly touted third-round pick from Notre Dame who had back surgery before the season, said he's ready for a bigger role heading into his second season.

"Lepsis and Nalen teach people. They help the younger people get better," Harris told the AP. "They teach you and you learn from their practice habits and play."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.