Joseph expected Ward's release to irritate teammates

When the Broncos cut bait with safety T.J. Ward on Saturday, the move didn't sit well with plenty of his longtime teammates.

"Letting go of TJ would be a mistake," linebacker Brandon Marshall tweeted last week of Ward, before All-Pro pass rusher Von Miller told ESPN: "I don't think he should be going."

Cornerback Chris Harris also used a pair of heat-seeking emojis to share his feelings over the cut, while NFL Network's James Palmer reported that Ward was "loved by many teammates who are upset with the move."

None of this comes as a surprise to Broncos coach Vance Joseph, who said Saturday that he fully expects his players, especially on defense, to speak out over the release of Ward, who quickly signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Bucs following his release.

"I would say so because he was obviously a valuable teammate to these guys," Joseph said, per ESPN's Jeff Legwold. "They won a lot of games together. It's natural, it's expected.

"It's a close-knit locker room," Joseph said. "I wasn't surprised to see guys saying, 'Hey, we're going to miss T.J. We don't want him to go.' That's natural and it should be that way in the locker room, and if it's not that would be concerning."

Denver chopped the 30-year-old Ward because they believe they have a better answer at safety in the younger Justin Simmons.

These moves drum up emotion, but don't expect a revolt. Denver's vaunted collection of defensive stars will quickly move on to prepare for next Monday's clash with the Chargers. They simply have no other choice.

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