Shane Ray

West Notes: Rivers, Broncos, Rams

The Chargers have not made much of an effort to target Philip Rivers‘ heir apparent yet. Because the plan still appears to be a semi-long-term future with their current starter. Extension talks between the Bolts and their 37-year-old quarterback are set to commence. Rivers confirmed no such discussions have unfolded yet, but going through his 15th season did not change his mindset to avoid retirement for a while. The 2004 first-round pick gave the “year-by-year” answer during a radio interview with San Diego’s XTRA 1360 (via Pro Football Talk) before adding he believes he has a “handful” of seasons left. In the final year of his latest contract, Rivers is due an $11MM base salary and $5MM roster bonus in 2019. A $23MM cap charge is attached to this deal, and another re-up would bring that down. Los Angeles is projected to hold middle-of-the-pack cap space ($25MM-plus).

Here is the latest from the West divisions, moving to one of the Bolts’ top rivals:

  • Although Domata Peko‘s two seasons in Denver doubled as the Broncos‘ worst two-year stretch since the early 1970s, the veteran nose tackle rewarded the team’s modest investment. Again a free agent, Peko wants to continue his stay in Denver. “Of course I want to be back,” Peko said, via Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com. “I love it here, love these guys, you don’t know what they’re going to decide. But I feel good, like I can play.” The Broncos saw more improvement from Shelby Harris, an RFA who could be in line for a hefty raise. Harris could slide in and become Denver’s new starting nose, but Peko, at 34, may not cost too much to retain as a part-time player. Pro Football Focus slotted the longtime Bengals nose man as this year’s No. 42 interior defender.
  • Conversely, the Broncos’ half-decade run with Bradley Roby is expected to end, per Legwold. Neither Roby nor 2015 first-rounder Shane Ray are expected back in Denver next season. The Broncos have a solid glut of impending UFAs, with Matt Paradis and Shaquil Barrett joining Peko, Roby and Ray. While the Broncos have Von Miller and Bradley Chubb residing as one of the NFL’s best pass-rushing duos, their formerly formidable cornerback corps will be incredibly thin without Roby. All-Pro Chris Harris is still under contract, but for just one more season.
  • One of the workout circuit’s most popular players, free agent punter Brock Miller received a look from another team recently. The Rams employ All-Pro punter Johnny Hekker, but with the Patriots featuring left-footed punter Ryan Allen, Los Angeles brought in the left-footed-punting Miller for a look, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Miller has received several workouts like this but been more than a de facto scout-teamer, being part of the Giants’ practice squad last month.

AFC Notes: Browns, Ravens, Broncos, Jets

Few names have been hotter in coaching circles recently than Browns offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens, who was promoted to the role with Cleveland in Week 9 and has helped the squad since go 5-2. It should come as no surprise the Browns are interested in Kitchens returning to the role in 2019, but his name is starting to make the rounds in head-coaching rumors.

Any team wishing to tab Kitchens as an offensive coordinator is out of luck, as Cleveland can refuse any interview for the job. While some team might come sniffing for the innovative offensive mind, the Browns could make the move for Kitchens as their head coach according to ESPN’s Tony Grossi.

Grossi writes, “Like the Los Angeles Rams did with Sean McVay two years ago, the Browns could reasonably conclude that if Kitchens is on the fast track to be an NFL head coach, then it would be better to move him into that office a year too soon rather than lose him to somebody willing to take that gamble.”

Due to the team’s turnaround, interim head coach Gregg Williams is sure to get a long look for the position as well.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • The Ravens are expected to lost national scout Milt Hendrickson to a front-office role with the Packers, Jeff Zribiec of The Athletic writes. In the 2018 offseason, the Packers were denied by the Ravens in attempting to make the move. He served with the team since 2005. Hendrickson is good friends with Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst and lives in Wisconsin.
  • With the Broncos recording their second consecutive losing season for the first time since 1972, many expect John Elway to make big changes in the upcoming season. A few of those players expected to potentially be looking for a new job include Shane Ray, Su’a Cravens and Brandon Marshall, The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala writes. Though Marshall has two years remaining on his deal, none of that money is guaranteed and the team could move on from the veteran in favor of rookie Josey Jewell.
  • At 4-11, the Jets have plenty of areas to address in the upcoming offseason. The four biggest needs, however, include receiver, pass rusher, running back and offensive line, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY writes. Not surprisingly, three of those four needs revolve around giving first-year quarterback Sam Darnold some help on the offensive end. In addressing the running back situation, Vacchiano speculates the Jets could make a serious run at Le’Veon Bell with the team’s ample cap space.

Broncos Notes: Gotsis, Kerr, Ray, Kelly

Broncos defensive end Adam Gotsis is setting himself up for a solid payday. The former second-rounder is eligible to sign an extension this offseason, and the new contract has certainly been on the 26-year-old’s mind.

“It’s exciting knowing that (could) come in the future,” Gotsis told Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post. “I feel like if I take care of what I have to on the field, the extension is going to be there when the time comes. Saying this or saying that won’t get it done for me. It’s just going out there and making plays.”

Gotsis has been productive this season, compiling 35 tackles and a pair of sacks, and Pro Football Focus currently ranks him 51st among 116 interior defenders. As O’Halloran writes, the defensive end has really turned in on over the past six games, as he’s collected 11.5 “stuffs,” two hits, and both of his sacks.

O’Halloran points to the extension signed by teammate Derek Wolfe as a potential basis for Gotsis’ new deal. Wolfe inked a four-year, $36.7MM back in 2016. O’Halloran also opines that inking Gotsis to a new deal with be a priority for John Elway and Denver’s front office.

Let’s take a look at some more notes out of Denver…

  • O’Halloran also previewed the Broncos players who are set to hit unrestricted free agency this offseason. The writer doesn’t see a reason why the team wouldn’t bring back defensive lineman Zach Kerr, but he has the opposite sentiment for linebacker Shane Ray. The writer also explores the chances of bringing back cornerbacks Tramaine Brock and Bradley Roby, linebacker Shaquil Barrett, offensive guard Max Garcia, tight end Jeff Heuerman, center Matt Paradis, nose tackle Domata Peko, offensive lineman Billy Turner, and offensive tackle Jared Veldheer.
  • Former Broncos quarterback Chad Kelly appeared in court last week to be arraigned on a felony charge of first-degree trespassing (via Caitlin Hendee and Katie Wilcox of 9News.com). The charge stems from an Oct. 23 incident when the backup signal-caller allegedly walked into a family’s house after departing Von Miller‘s Halloween party. Denver released the former seventh-rounder following the arrest. The arraignment was continued to January 28th.
  • We previously heard the Broncos head coach Vance Joseph is expected to be fired at the end of the season, and it sounds like he’ll then become one of the top candidates for the Bengals’ defensive coordinator gig. We also heard today that Denver is still hopeful of interviewing Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, despite Baltimore’s recent announcement that Harbaugh will be back in 2019

Broncos Notes: Harris, Ray, Joseph

Here’s the latest out of Denver:

  • It’s “very possible” that cornerback Chris Harris will be placed on injured reserve this week, coach Vance Joseph told reporters (Twitter link via Mike Klis of 9News). Harris, 29, suffered a fractured fibula on Dec. 2, but the team wanted to keep its options open in case he would be needed for the playoffs. At 6-8, the Broncos have been mathematically eliminated from contention, so there’s little reason to put Harris in harm’s way.
  • Linebacker Shane Ray was a healthy scratch for the first in his career on Saturday and he didn’t hide his frustration when speaking with local beat writers on Monday. “Little disrespectful, but that’s all good, I don’t think I’ve been (a healthy) inactive in my whole career,” Ray said. “Whatever reason they felt I need to be inactive, that’s on them.” When asked if he’ll appear in the Broncos’ final two games of the season, Ray replied, “Y’all got to ask Vance Joseph that.” The Broncos declined Ray’s fifth-year option back in May and it seems unlikely that the 2015 first-round pick will return to Denver next year. Multiple wrist surgeries cost Ray eight games in 2017 and the Broncos seem prepared to move on.
  • Joseph is on the hot seat, but Mike Shanahan is not expected to garner consideration if the Broncos conduct a search for a new head coach.

Broncos Bench Two Players Ahead Of Pivotal Game

The Broncos are playing a game they must win to keep their playoff hopes alive in a couple of hours, and are making a major change ahead of the game. 

Outside linebacker Shane Ray and safety Su’a Cravens will be benched and be healthy scratches for the game against the Browns, a source told Mike Klis of Denver 9 News. Klis writes that the moves are “strictly a coach’s decision”, meaning embattled head coach Vance Joseph made the call. Ray was a first round pick of the Broncos back in 2015, and has mostly been a disappointment after a promising first two years. He’s battled various injuries and has just one sack this year, and the team declined his fifth-year team option earlier this year. He’ll be a free agent after the season, so it’s quite possible he’s played his last down in a Broncos uniform.

Cravens is in his first year with the Broncos after spending his first two years in the league with Washington. Cravens was a second round pick of the Redskins in 2016, but quickly had a falling out with the organization. The Broncos traded a couple of draft picks to acquire Cravens this past March, and he’s been a major disappointment. He missed most of the year with a knee injury, and Klis notes that he’s “struggled in coverage” since returning.

Both of the players had been seeing significant snaps on defense, so it’s a major shakeup. It feels like a last gasp for Joseph, as he seems almost certain to lose his job if the team misses the playoffs. There have been whispers in the past about Joseph losing the locker room, so it will be very interesting to see how these moves go over.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Trade Rumors: Carr, Raiders, Peterson, Taylor

We learned earlier this morning that Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson has requested a trade, though the team wants to keep him. Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets that Jackson, on his way to the team bus this morning, declined to comment on the report.

With the trade deadline two days away, let’s round up a few more trade rumors from around the league (Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, who says many GMs expect there to be three to five “impactful” deals over the next 48 hours, offers a helpful primer, which includes a list of some of the most-discussed players on the market):

  • Albert Breer of TheMMQB says that the Raiders may not be done dealing just yet, though he does not expect the team to move Derek Carr (indeed, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reported this morning that the Raiders have told Carr that he is the quarterback of the present and future). However, Oakland is open to moving Karl Joseph and Gareon Conley, though the Raiders are driving a “hard bargain” with teams interested in Conley.
  • Breer names a number of other players whose names we have not heard in recent rumblings but who could nonetheless be on the move: the PackersHa Ha Clinton-Dix, the 49ersPierre Garcon and Jimmie Ward, the CardinalsChandler Jones, and the BroncosShane Ray and Brandon Marshall. Breers adds that San Francisco would need to get something “significant” to deal Ward. He also says that, while teams are certainly interested in Denver corners Bradley Roby and Chris Harris, he thinks it would be difficult for the team to trade either.
  • If they had elected to trade Patrick Peterson, La Canfora writes that the Cardinals could have received a bounty for him, and may have even landed multiple first-round picks (in fact, several teams were already prepared to offer a first- and second-rounder). JLC reports that Peterson was considered the “crown jewel” of the deadline, and given his attractive contract status, he may be the subject of renewed trade rumors during the offseason.
  • Breer also writes that the Browns are open to trading Tyrod Taylor, whose contract structure could make a deal feasible. Meanwhile, Tony Grossi of ESPN.com suggests that Cleveland GM John Dorsey may be trying to acquire wide receiver help (Twitter link).
  • The Bills remain unlikely to trade LeSean McCoy, per Schefter.
  • Jets GM Mike Maccagnan has demonstrated a proclivity for making trades, and Rich Cimini of ESPN.com says Maccagnan has been doing his due diligence on everyone, including big-name players. But while there is a sense that New York could swing a deal, the fact that the team is in a no-man’s land between buyer and seller, and the fact that the roster does not have many tradeable pieces, could make a trade difficult to pull off.

Injury Updates: Fins, Peters, Wright, Jets

Although Brock Osweiler and some pivotal run-after-catch action from his receivers came through to help the Dolphins to key win over the Bears, Ryan Tannehill has obviously been the better quarterback since these two began their careers six years ago. But Tannehill’s dealing with another injury, a shoulder malady, after two years of knee trouble. Adam Gase did not do much to squash the notion his starter’s dealing with a long-term malady, but Miami’s third-year coach said he has “complete confidence” Tannehill will play again this season (Twitter links via the Miami Herald’s Adam Beasley). Despite being listed as one of the longest-odds Super Bowl teams coming into the season, the Dolphins are 4-2 and in early contention for a playoff berth. They host the Lions on Sunday, and Osweiler may have to prepare for another week as the starter.

Here’s the latest from injury news cycles:

  • Jason Peters is dealing with a partially torn biceps muscle but may not have to miss any games because of it. Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland (via Jeff McLane of Philly.com, on Twitter) does not expect his left tackle to miss time. The 15th-year veteran was already afflicted with quadriceps injury, missed most of the Eagles’ Super Bowl run last season and is now in his age-36 season. But Peters has started all six games for this year’s Philadelphia squad.
  • The Jets will be without their leading receiver for some time. Quincy Enunwa suffered a high ankle sprain Sunday, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News tweets. He’s likely going to miss at least three games, per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). Enunwa missed all of last season because of a neck injury. In a contract year, Enunwa returned to be Sam Darnold‘s top target thus far. He’s hauled in 22 passes for 287 yards and a touchdown. The Jets have turned to Terrelle Pryor more over the past two games, with the former Browns and Redskins wideout catching a touchdown pass in each, and he’ll be relied upon more in the immediate future.
  • Pete Carroll had hoped his top outside linebacker would be ready to start his season sometime in September, despite undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery just before the season. But K.J. Wright‘s missed six games. the Seahawks coach revealed Tuesday (Twitter link via the Seattle Times’ Percy Allen) Wright encountered a setback during Week 3 practice to delay his recovery. But he’s back on track now. The Seahawks have their bye this weekend and may be ready to finally see Wright in action in Week 8. The second half of the season will be critical for the 29-year-old linebacker, who is in a contract year.
  • Shane Ray‘s also in a contract campaign and looks to be auditioning for other teams after the Broncos didn’t pick up his fifth-year option following their first-round selection of Bradley Chubb. Ray’s now run into more injury trouble, suffering a high ankle sprain in Sunday’s loss to the Rams, per Mike Klis of 9News (on Twitter). The likely free agent-to-be seems certain to miss Denver’s Thursday game in Arizona, if not more time.
  • The Bengals are now down to their third-string tight end, C.J. Uzomah, as the starter after losing both Tyler Eifert and Tyler Kroft. However, Marvin Lewis does expect Kroft — out because of a broken bone in his foot — to return this season. Kroft, too, is in a contract year.

Broncos Notes: Henderson, Brown, Ray, Lynch

The Broncos’ receiving room looks a lot different than it did last year. While Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas will return from last year’s group, there’s several new faces. The team drafted Courtland Sutton in the third round and Daesean Hamilton in the fourth and both have reportedly shown well in practices and are being groomed to take over for Sanders and Thomas in the future.

Lost amid all the excitement surrounding Sutton and Hamilton has been last year’s third round pick Carlos Henderson. Henderson started training camp on the reserve/did not report list, as he is reportedly dealing with a personal issue. Troy Renck of Denver 7 took a stab at predicting the Broncos’ 53-man roster, and left Henderson off it. Renck thinks the Broncos will ultimately be forced to cut Henderson due to the depth at the position.

Henderson missed all of last season with a thumb injury. If Renck is right, the 82nd overall pick of the 2017 draft could end up never playing a single snap for the Broncos.

Here’s more from Denver:

  • Speaking of Henderson, Mike Klis of 9 News thinks the recently signed Corey “Philly” Brown could slide in and replace Henderson on the roster. Brown spent all of 2017 out of the league, but was a productive player before that, notably hauling in a team high 80-yards in Super Bowl 50.
  • Linebacker Shane Ray was reportedly “pretty shocked” when he was told by a doctor that he wouldn’t require surgery after all (Twitter link via Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post). Initially thought to be out for the beginning of the regular season, Ray is now practicing with “no restrictions on his participation” according to Jeff Legwold of ESPN.
  • Renck thinks the Broncos could look to add a veteran backup quarterback if Paxton Lynch and Chad Kelly “don’t impress in the first few [preseason] games.” If Lynch can’t separate himself and win the backup job this summer, it could be the end of the road for the 2016 first round pick in Denver.

No Surgery For Broncos’ Shane Ray

Good news for Shane Ray. Despite a diagnosis to the contrary earlier this summer, the Broncos linebacker will not need an additional surgery on his wrist, Ian Rapoport and James Palmer of NFL.com hear (Twitter link). Ray is not expected to miss any games, Mike Klis of 9News hears (on Twitter), and he may even be cleared for the start of training camp.

While awaiting surgery, Ray stuck to his rehab plan, so his timetable for return looks like it will come up quicker than anticipated. That’s excellent news for the Broncos and also for Ray, who is scheduled for free agency in 2019 after the Broncos declined his fifth-year option.

The 2015 first-rounder had a disappointing season in 2017, compiling only 16 tackles and one sack in eight games (seven starts). In 2016, however, he tallied eight sacks on 58% playing time. Ray is far from a lost cause and now that he’s healthy, he could have a chance to secure his future in Denver, or a better payday elsewhere.

The Broncos fortified their edge rushing corps by drafting Bradley Chubb with the No. 5 pick earlier this year, adding additional depth to a unit that already includes All-Pro Von Miller and Shaquil Barrett. This year, Ray will earn a base salary of ~$1.7MM before hitting the open market.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Notes: Ware, Ray, Lynch

DeMarcus Ware will return to Denver and work with some of his former teammates. After months of trying, the Broncos hired the future Hall of Famer as a part-time coach, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic reports (subscription required). Ware will work with the Broncos around 40 or 50 days this year, Mike Klis of 9News reports (Twitter link). Klis adds that Ware will work with the defensive assistants, some of whom were around during his final Broncos seasons. Ware received interest from the Cowboys for a similar consulting-type role but opted for the Denver job.

I wish I could help out both teams, but with the league, you can’t do that,” Ware said, via Klis (on Twitter). “You’ve just got to choose your battles and this right here was my choice.”

Jhabvala notes Ware will work with Broncos outside linebackers and defensive ends, with Bradley Chubb likely his chief assignment, and will be at various practices and spend time in meetings with coaches.

It’s great for Von (Miller),” Vance Joseph said, via Jhabvala. “D-Ware is the guy that Von followed. He became a great player under D-Ware’s watch, along with the coaches also obviously. But it’s great to have him here for all of our guys — for (Derek) Wolfe, for (Domata) Peko, for Von, for all of those guys. Rushing the passer in this league is a premium. You have to rush the passer, and our scheme is built around rushing the passer.”

Here’s the latest out of Denver, moving to one of Ware’s charges.

  • Shane Ray‘s wrist surgery will involve bone fusion, Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post tweets. Ray said Wednesday he’s still hoping to be on the field for Week 1. The former first-round pick began last season on IR because of a wrist injury, and after extensive medical counsel, he will undergo another wrist procedure. Ray was available during the Broncos’ 2017 offseason before suffering an injury during training camp. But he wasn’t the same upon return, failing to live up to his 2016 standards. The Broncos are better equipped to handle a Ray absence this year, with Chubb in the fold alongside Shaquil Barrett.
  • Ray’s surgery might open the door for UDFA Jeff Holland. The Auburn product left school early only to go undrafted, but DC Joe Woods lavished high praise upon the rookie Wednesday. “We record all of the positive that guys make, and right now he’s blowing people away,” Woods said, via O’Halloran (Twitter link). Holland could be in line to make the Broncos as a backup outside linebacker. During their return to a 3-4 look, the Broncos have usually kept four outside linebackers — peaking with a Miller/Ware/Barrett/Ray setup in 2015-16. But with Ray sidelined, it’s possible Holland could forge a path to the 53-man roster — possibly as a fifth outside ‘backer due to the unique circumstances Denver’s dealing with at this spot.
  • Paxton Lynch has looked like a more dedicated player this offseason, Arnie Stapleton of the Associated Press writes. However, the third-year quarterback has yet to consistently wow observers on the practice field. Joseph attempted to shed additional light on why the franchise stuck with Lynch rather than using a draft pick on competition. “I think Paxton is really motivated to show everyone that he can be a No. 1 quarterback in this league, and watching him work this entire offseason he is different because I’ve seen him a lot more up in the halls here,” Joseph said, adding the Broncos having three offensive coordinators in three years has stunted the young passer’s progress. “And that takes time to find your comfort zone with coaches, with your organization.”