Broncos edge rusher Shane Ray will undergo wrist surgery which is expected to sideline him for three months, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Given his recovery timeline, Ray may not be available for the start of the 2018 regular season.
The operation was fully expected, as Mike Klis of 9 News recently reported that Ray — who missed eight games with a wrist ailment in 2017 — appeared set for another surgery. For Ray, it’s yet another disappointment in what has already been a discouraging offseason. Denver declined its 2019 fifth-year option on Ray in May, withholding the chance for the 25-year-old to collect north of $5MM in his fifth NFL campaign.
Ray, whom the Broncos selected 23rd overall in 2015, has steadily seen his playing time increase over three pro seasons, and had seen action on nearly three-quarters of Denver’s defensive snaps a year ago before going down with injury. With his wrist hampering him, Ray graded as a bottom-10 edge defender, per Pro Football Focus, and wasn’t able to match or exceed his 2016 production (eight sacks on 58% playing time).
Denver fortified its edge rushing corps by drafting Bradley Chubb with the No. 5 pick earlier this year, and he’ll add depth to a unit that already includes All-Pro Von Miller and Shaquil Barrett. Still, without Ray in tow, it’s possible the Broncos turn to the free agent market in search of another option. Given that they’d likely be looking for players with 3-4 experience, the Broncos might theoretically look at Erik Walden, Willie Young, Ahmad Brooks, Junior Galette, or Connor Barwin.
Ray had been speculatively viewed as a trade candidate given Denver’s depth along the edge, but any deal won’t occur now that Ray is sidelined. Instead, he’s now — depending on how his operation and recovery goes — an (admittedly remote) candidate for the physically unable to perform list. Ray will earn a base salary of ~$1.7MM before hitting the open market next spring.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.