The Denver Broncos released safety T.J. Ward on Saturday after three seasons with the team.
"This was a difficult decision to part ways with T.J. after everything he's done for our football team," Elway said in a statement. "He was a respected teammate whose attitude and physical mindset played a big part in our success, especially during our Super Bowl run. We thank T.J. for his contributions as a Bronco and wish him nothing but the best in the future."
Ward, a three-time Pro Bowler, was scheduled to make a non-guaranteed $4.5 million in the final year of the four-year contract he signed in 2014.
The 30-year-old Ward started 14 games last season and recorded 69 tackles, one sack and one interception.
Ward did not play in any of the four preseason games after suffering a hamstring injury in practice in early August. He lost out to second-year safety Justin Simmons.
Entering his eighth NFL season, Ward spent the last three years with the Broncos after being signed as an unrestricted free agent in 2014. He started all 41 regular-season games played as well as four postseason contests while making the Pro Bowl in two of his three seasons in Denver (2014, 2015).
Ward totaled 222 tackles, five sacks, three interceptions, 19 passes defensed, five forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in regular-season action with the Broncos. In the postseason, he added 19 tackles, one interception, three passes defensed and one fumble recovery.
Ward started all 95 regular-season games played during his NFL career with Denver (2014-16) and Cleveland (2010-13) after being selected by the Browns in the second round (38th overall) of the 2010 draft out of Oregon. His seven-year NFL totals include 545 tackles, 8.5 sacks, eight interceptions, 41 passes defensed, 10 forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
Broncos coach Vance Joseph was asked following Thursday night's preseason finale if Ward would be traded or released.
"Nothing on that," Joseph told ESPN. "Again, it's going to be a long weekend of a lot of transactions, I can't speak to that. At the end of the day, we want the best guys for our football team, and if he's one of them, he'll be here.''