In a move expected because of financial considerations, the Broncos released former starting middle linebacker Joe Mays on Tuesday.

Mays was due to earn a $4 million salary this season, although the Broncos will save only $3.5 million as $500,000 of his salary was guaranteed.

Either way, the money was too rich for a player who lost his starting position last season after the Broncos' fifth game against the New England Patriots.

Just because a transaction lacks surprise, though, doesn't mean it's easy for the player or the team. Mays was one of the leaders in the Broncos' locker room, a popular teammate and active in the community.

A sixth-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2008 draft, Mays was traded to the Broncos early in the 2010 training camp for running back J.J. Arrington. When Arrington, who was trying to return from knee surgery, was waived before the season opener, the Broncos instead sent the Eagles a sixth-round pick in the 2012 draft.

Meanwhile, Mays started 21 of 24 games at middle linebacker for the Broncos. His career hit a series of unfortunate events, though, starting with a vicious hit on Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub during Week 3 last season. Although Schaub appeared to duck at the last second, Mays was given a one-game suspension for his helmet hit that made all the highlight shows.