Shane Ray

Ravens To Sign Shane Ray

The Ravens have agreed to sign Shane Ray, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). The edge rusher’s deal is pending a physical, which may be more than a formality given his history. 

Ray has missed 13 games over the last two seasons with the Broncos due to various injuries. The LB/DE, who turns 26 on Saturday, hasn’t exactly lived up to his draft pedigree, but he has shown flashes of promise. The former first-round pick amassed four sacks as a reserve in his rookie season and tallied a career-high eight sacks in 2016.

Despite the setbacks, Ray drew interest from a handful of other teams this offseason, including the Seahawks, Colts, and Raiders. The Ravens arguably needed him more than any of those clubs after losing 2018 sack leader Za’Darius Smith to the Packers and all-time franchise sack leader Terrell Suggs to the Cardinals.

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Compensatory Pick Formula Ends Today

Starting at 4pm ET/3pm CT, any unrestricted free agent that signs with a new team will not count towards the 2020 compensatory draft pick formula, as Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. This should quickly accelerate the market for several free agents of note, including:

Compensatory picks are given to teams that lose a greater number of compensatory free agents (or, a greater quality of free agents) than they acquire. The complicated formula that dictates how the picks are dispersed is not disclosed to the public, but teams are wary of signing even lower impact UFAs while it is in effect.

But, when the formula is turned off, veteran free agents should start flying off of the board.

Shane Ray To Visit Seahawks

Now that the draft is over, the Shane Ray free agency tour can resume. The free agent edge rusher will meet with the Seahawks tomorrow, per Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network (via Twitter).

Seattle is clearly on the lookout for pass rushing help after trading Frank Clark prior to the draft. The Seahawks hosted Ziggy Ansah earlier this week, and although they added TCU defensive end L.J. Collier in the first round, they are still a bit undermanned on the edge.

Ray, whom Denver selected in the first round of the 2015 draft, hasn’t exactly lived up to his draft pedigree, but he has shown flashes of promise. The 25-year-old (26 in May) amassed four sacks as a reserve in his rookie season and tallied a career-high eight sacks in 2016. Injuries have derailed him somewhat, however, as he has just two sacks in the last two years combined.

But he would have a good chance to get his career back on track in Seattle. He has also met with the Colts and Raiders, so teams are obviously interested in seeing what he can do.

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Raiders Host Shane Ray

The Raiders hosted free agent edge rusher Shane Ray, as ESPN’s Field Yates tweets. The club recently signed another former Broncos defender, Brandon Marshall, and Ray could follow suit.

Ray, whom Denver selected in the first round of the 2015 draft, hasn’t exactly lived up to his draft pedigree, but he has shown flashes of promise. The 25-year-old (26 in May) amassed four sacks as a reserve in his rookie season and tallied a career-high eight sacks in 2016. Injuries have derailed him somewhat, however, as he has just two sacks in the last two years combined.

But the Raiders are in dire need of pass rush help, and Ray makes plenty of sense as an upside play. Ray would likely serve as a defensive end in the club’s 4-3 scheme, and the top two DEs on the roster at the moment are Josh Mauro and 2018 third-rounder Arden Key, so if the two sides reach an agreement, Ray may have plenty of opportunity to rebuild his value.

Ray visited the Colts last month but left Indy without a deal.

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Colts Meet With Shane Ray

The Colts hosted former Broncos edge rusher Shane Ray on Friday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The Colts added Justin Houston just yesterday, but it sounds like they’re not done bolstering their pass rush. 

[RELATED: Colts To Sign Justin Houston]

Ray didn’t live up to his first-round billing from 2015, but he has shown promise in the past. The 25-year-old (26 in May) amassed four tackles as a reserve in his rookie season and tallied a career-high eight sacks in 2016. Injuries have derailed him somewhat, however, as he has just two sacks in the last two years combined.

The Colts entered the free agent season with a major stockpile of available money, but have not spent much of it so far. After allowing Le’Veon Bell and other big names fall off the board, the Colts could get very active in the second wave of free agency with Ray and other low-cost additions.

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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.

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