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.
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.