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Broncos release six players, including DT Robertson, LB Winborn

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Brian Xanders isn't wasting any time reshaping the Denver Broncos' roster.

Schefter's take

When the Broncos released six players Monday including Dewayne Robertson and leading tackler Jamie Winborn, it had massive salary-cap consequences, writes Adam Schefter. More ...

The team released a half-dozen players Monday, led by high-priced defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson, who was set to count $16 million against the team's $123 million cap.

"It's a team's sport. One person can't take a huge burden against the existing framework of the salary cap. So, we'll try to spread it around and figure it out that way," Xanders said in his first public interview since his promotion from assistant GM last week.

Also released were linebackers Niko Koutouvides ($3.06 million) and Jamie Winborn ($2.25 million), safety Marquand Manuel ($1.33 million), defensive end John Engelberger ($2.18 million) and tight end Nate Jackson (less than $1 million).

Many of them might still have a job with the Broncos were Mike Shanahan not fired Dec. 30 after the team missed the playoffs for the third straight season.

"You never know. The only thing you can do is move on," Manuel told The Associated Press. "We didn't win enough, so it comes with the territory -- for all of us."

New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, 32, replaced Shanahan as Denver's coach last month and Xanders, 37, was promoted to chief personnel man Thursday, not long after the Rams showed an interest in luring him to St. Louis.

Both men report directly to Bowlen.

In a wide-ranging interview, Xanders said he's found a kindred spirit in McDaniels and he pledged a unified front office, insisting "there will be no disagreements" on player personnel decisions.

In that case, the two rookie 30-somethings quickly agreed on reshaping their roster.

Monday's moves leave the Broncos with 13 players who each will count more than $1 million against their cap next season, led by cornerback Champ Bailey ($13.67 million) and linebacker D.J. Williams ($11.6 million), defensive co-captains who spent much of last season on the sideline with injuries and are prime candidates for renegotiating their contracts.

Xanders was already taking a hard look at the team's salary cap issues when he was approached Thursday by Bowlen, who offered him the job and then fired Jim and Jeff Goodman, the architects of last year's solid draft class.

"The timing is a surprise," Xanders acknowledged, what with the NFL combine fast approaching, free agency less than two weeks away and the draft looming in two months.

Xanders said he's already developed a strong relationship with McDaniels in the month they've worked together.

"Well, we're both very competitive. We both have a high passion to win football games. We both love this franchise. And we both want to do everything we can to help us win," Xanders said. "We both realize we have great opportunities and we both want to fulfill those opportunities and do what Mr. Bowlen wants and that's to win football games and get him back to the Super Bowl and get the Super Bowl back to the fans."

The Broncos have won just one playoff game since John Elway's retirement a decade ago following back-to-back championships, and Xanders said he and McDaniels share a philosophy on player personnel and how to return the team to glory.

"I'll say this, there will be no disagreements," Xanders said. "There are no ties, as Mr. Bowlen says. It'll be crystal clear of who we should take at that time. It will be based on who's best for us, who's going to be the best football player over the next four years out of the draft for us at a position of need."

Xanders also said he sees why Bowlen was impressed enough to hand the reins over to a first-time coach who's only 32.

"He is extremely passionate, he knows exactly what he wants to do," Xanders said. "He has a clear purpose and specific role for everybody and everything, and a system that has worked in this modern football era and he is excellent in multiple, multiple areas, whether it's defense, special teams, offense, running game, passing game, player personnel, college scouting, pro personnel, leadership.

"He is where he is for a reason."

And Xanders certainly feels the same way about himself.

Notes: Xanders declined to say whether the team would shift from a 4-3 defensive front to a 3-4 with three down linemen and four linebackers, and he indicated the Broncos might make moves to bolster the 17 draft picks they'll have over the next two years. ... Xanders also declined to say how long his contract is.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press.

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