Shane Ray

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.”

Extra Points: AAF, Dolphins, Ray, Broncos

The Alliance of American Football is set to debut this winter. While the league is expected to provide an alternative for NFL fans, founder Charlie Ebersol said they aren’t intending to put their counterpart out of business.

“It’s a positive relationship,” Ebersol told Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. “One of the reasons that we made the contract the way we do for the players where they have an out to go to back to the NFL is because we recognize the fact just like the MLS recognizes the fact that the Premier League is ultimately gonna pay players more and put them on a bigger stage than the MLS will. They support that. We support the same concepts. I think that it’s a foolish to try to pick a fight with a $150 billion business when you’re starting up and when you’re also not competing. I mean none of my content touches any of their content. Ultimately, it’s a complementary, positive relationship.”

Ebersol touched on several additional points during the interview, including the ability for players to switch to the NFL should they receive an offer.

Let’s take a look at some other notes from around the NFL…

  • Dolphins second-round tight end Mike Gesicki has yet to impress during the media portions of practices. While the Penn State product clearly has some work to do, it sounds like Miami’s coaching staff is optimistic about the prospect’s future in the NFL. “Mike is a little bit unique,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains told Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald. “[Durham Smythe] is a ‘Y’ and Mike G is more of a … We’ve got to find out exactly what he can and can’t do and what he can and can’t handle early. As the season goes and the offseason goes and training camp, his package will expand and his routes will expand as we found out what he can and can’t do.” To start the season, Gesicki is expected to backup A.J. Derby.
  • Beasley writes that filling Ndamukong Suh‘s role is easier said than done. However, several Dolphins players could be ready for the challenge, and the writer specifically points to 2017 third-rounder Vincent Taylor. “It’s hard losing a guy like Suh just knowing what he’s capable of doing; but at the end of the day, it’s a business decision,” Taylor said. “I know all of the things when I was coming in, what he taught me, so I learned some of the things that he taught me.”
  • The Broncos declined to pick up Shane Ray‘s fifth-year option. As a result, Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post believes the injured linebacker should take as long as he needs to recover from wrist surgery. The writer explains that returning early and re-aggravating the injury could hurt Ray’s market value. However, if the linebacker is productive and healthy in a lesser playing sample, he still might be able to secure a lucrative contract. The 2015 first-rounder had a disappointing season in 2017, compiling only 16 tackles and one sack in eight games (seven starts).
  • O’Halloran also observes that Broncos tight end Jake Butt has been an offensive standout during practices. “It’s our responsibility as tight ends and slot (receivers) to win one-on-one match-ups on the inside,” he said. “We’ve got to make plays when our number is called to take a little bit of pressure off those guys (Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders) on the outside.” Butt could end up with the starting gig in Denver, but he’ll have to compete with a grouping that includes Jeff Heuerman and Troy Fumagalli.

Shane Ray To Undergo Wrist Surgery

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.

Shane Ray To Get Another Wrist Surgery?

Broncos outside linebacker Shane Ray has been dealing with wrist issues for around a year now, and may now require a new surgery that could jeopardize his 2018 season, according to Mike Klis of 9News. Ray, the Broncos’ first-round pick in 2015, played in just eight games last year while dealing with the injury. Klis says that Ray and the team are seeking a second opinion but that “as of now, it appears he’s headed for surgery.”

Ray showed promise in 2016, racking up eight sacks in just a rotational role. Injuries and a lack of consistent play derailed his 2017 season, and caused the Broncos to decline his fifth-year option last month. With his option declined, Ray is now set to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, and continued medical red flags will certainly hurt his value on the open market.

According to Klis, Ray seems likely to miss at least some of the regular season and likely all of what was supposed to be a crucial offseason for him. The Broncos might now be forced to pursue a veteran pass-rusher to complement a unit that already had its fair share of question marks outside of Von Miller.

As Klis points out, it’s the second recent linebacker injury for the Broncos after Deiontrez Mount was lost for the season with a torn achilles just last week. Klis notes that the injuries to Ray and Mount could “increase the chances of undrafted rookie Jeff Holland making the 53-man roster.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: Ray, Rivers, Thomas

Most of the fifth-year option decisions this offseason were no-brainers, but what the Broncos would do with respect to Shane Ray‘s 2019 option was a little tougher to predict. Ultimately, Denver chose to decline the option, which means that Ray will be eligible for free agency following the 2018 campaign, and head coach Vance Joseph believes that the chance to hit the open market will make the Missouri product especially motivated to produce at a high level this year.

Joseph said (via Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post), “[Ray] is really motivated. He understands it’s business. And he’s ready for a challenge. He wants to be a great player and, in my opinion, before he got hurt last year (early in training camp) he was on his way to having a great year. I am not surprised that he is motivated and engaged. The ball is in his court. He can earn a lot more than what the option offered him if he goes out there and does what we think he can do.”

As O’Halloran notes, however, this could be Ray’s last season with the Broncos regardless of how he performs. If he does well, he could price himself out of Denver’s budget, and if he struggles, the Broncos may not want him back anyway.

Now for more notes from the league’s west divisions:

  • Joseph is not only impressed with Ray’s effort level this spring; he is also pleased by what he has seen from the Broncos‘ marquee free agent signing, Case Keenum. Joseph said (via the same piece linked above), “[W]atching Case the last couple of weeks on the field, man, he’s a lot better than I remember. It’s definitely a good thing to watch him lead the guys and watch the guys respond to him. It’s refreshing for all of us to be in the presence of a veteran quarterback who has command. I think everyone is loving the fact we have a quarterback in place that can lead this team from spot 1, and that’s good for all of us.” 
  • In response to a reader’s question as to when the Chargers should plan for Philip Rivers‘ retirement, Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com suggests that it won’t be anytime soon, and that Rivers could play for another five years. After all, Rivers, 36, has already indicated he would like to play for a few more seasons, the club has not drafted a QB since 2013, and in addition to his continuing strong performance, he has not lost an ounce of motivation or even mentioned retirement, per quarterbacks coach Shane Steichen. And, as Williams notes, Rivers — who has not missed a start in more than a decade — predicates his game on anticipation and moving within the pocket, so loss of speed is not a huge issue.
  • Rayshawn Jenkins, whom the Chargers selected in the fourth round of last year’s draft, was primarily a special teams contributor in his rookie campaign, but as Williams notes, Los Angeles is giving the Miami product a shot at free safety this offseason. The team is intrigued by his athleticism, speed, and physicality, and the hope is that he can use those qualities to become a consistent presence on the defensive side of the ball.
  • Whether the Seahawks will trade Earl Thomas this offseason has been something of an open question over the past few months, but it sounds as if his next contract — he is eligible for free agency next year — will not come from Seattle. As Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times tweets, even though Thomas will command top dollar, the Seahawks could pay him if they wanted to. But in light of Thomas’ age (29), the fact that the team is in something of a retooling phase, and what has happened to some of the Seahawks’ older players over the last few years, Seattle seems unlikely to make the kind of commitment that Thomas is looking for.

Broncos To Decline Shane Ray’s Option

The Broncos will not exercise Shane Ray’s fifth-year option for 2019, multiple sources tell Troy Renck of Denver7 (on Twitter). In recent days, we’ve been hearing that Denver was leaning in this direction.

The Broncos bolstered their pass rush by selecting Bradley Chubb with the No. 5 overall pick in this year’s draft, which crowded their outside linebacker group even further. Rather than overcommitting dollars to the OLB unit, the Broncos will allow Ray to play out the 2018 season with unrestricted free agency on the horizon next year.

The option for the former No. 23 overall pick would have cost Denver $9.232MM. He’ll carry a much more palatable cap number of $2.9MM in 2018 , making him an interesting trade chip for Denver. An acquiring team would take on just $1.678MM in base salary and, unlike other members of the 2015 draft class who have had their options declined, Ray has produced in the past. In his first two NFL seasons, the Missouri product tallied 12 sacks. Unfortunately, he took a step back last season as he missed time and recorded only one sack.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Unlikely To Exercise Shane Ray’s Option

The Broncos are not planning to exercise edge rusher Shane Ray‘s 2019 fifth-year option, according to Mike Klis of 9News. James Palmer of NFL.com recently reported that it was “far from a certainty” that Denver would pick up Ray’s option.

Ray hasn’t delivered on his first-round draft billing since entering the league in 2015, and the Broncos also re-invested in their pass rush by selecting edge defender Bradley Chubb with the fifth overall pick in the weekend’s draft. With Chubb now in tow, Denver is now four-deep at outside linebacker, with superstar Von Miller and restricted free agent Shaquil Barrett joining Ray and Chubb on the club’s defense.

Ray, who will turn 25 years old this month, posted 12 sacks during his first two years with the Broncos, but missed eight games with a hand injury in 2017. He managed only a single sack and graded as a bottom-10 edge rusher, per Pro Football Focus. Ray would earn more than $9MM in 2019 if his option were exercised, and while that figure is guaranteed for injury only, Ray’s recent health issues could give Denver pause.

While purely speculative, it’s fair to wonder if the Broncos will consider a trade of Ray (or Barrett) in the coming months. While Ray wasn’t effective last season, a 24-year-old former first-round pass rusher would certainly fetch a fair price on the trade market. Ray is also eminently affordable for the 2018 campaign, as an acquiring team would take on just $1.678MM in base salary.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Gates, Ray, Giants, Cowboys

Last week, news broke that the Chargers and Antonio Gates would not reunite for a 16th season. The Bolts confirmed this on Monday.

Antonio is not only one of the best Chargers of all-time, but he’s one of the best football players in the history of our game,” Tom Telesco said, via Ricky Henne of Chargers.com. “He has meant so much to this organization — both on the field, off the field, in San Diego, in Los Angeles — and we can’t say enough about the type of person he is, and player.

“These decisions are really, really difficult. … There aren’t many guys like him that come along, and I’ve been doing this for 20 years and have had a chance to be around some special players — some special Hall of Fame players — but nobody greater than what he did at his position.”

The Chargers signed former Broncos starter Virgil Green this offseason, and the blocking tight end will pair with Hunter Henry. Gates wants to catch on elsewhere and play what would be his age-38 season. His 114 touchdown receptions are the most by a tight end in NFL history and sixth all-time for any pass-catcher.

Here’s the latest from around the league:

  • Another AFC West team has a decision regarding a player’s future due soon, and the Bradley Chubb pick may be clouding the Broncos‘ fifth-year option choice on Shane Ray. It’s far from a certainty the Broncos pick up Ray’s 2019 option, James Palmer of NFL.com tweets. Prior to the draft, Ray expected the Broncos to pick up his option — worth $9.232MM. John Elway did not reveal which way he was leaning, and that was before Chubb’s arrival. A 2015 first-round pick, Ray has enjoyed intermittent success, registering eight sacks in 2016, but has missed time due to injuries in 2015 and ’17. Denver also has contract-year outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett on its roster. The Broncos won’t be able to retain both after this season, and keeping either may prove difficult now that Chubb’s in the mix. Denver is projected to possess $28MM-plus in 2019 cap space but has UFAs-to-be like Barrett, Matt Paradis and Bradley Roby potentially on the docket to comprise some of those available dollars.
  • Dave Gettleman didn’t seem too interested in the interest that came his way for the No. 2 pick, but the Giants‘ first-year GM did tell WFAN (via Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com, on Twitter) one team made a respectable offer. It’s uncertain which team supplied such a proposal, but before the draft, a report emerged indicating the Broncos had interest in moving up to No. 2. Elway held Sam Darnold atop his quarterback-prospect hierarchy but elected to stay put and take Chubb.
  • For now, Connor Williams will try to win the Cowboys‘ starting left guard job, Dallas VP of player personnel Will McClay confirmed during a Sirius XM Radio interview (Twitter link). But the Texas tackle will also be viewed as depth behind Tyron Smith and La’el Collins, the latter of whom has multiple years of experience as the Cowboys’ left guard starter. The Cowboys struggled to replace Ronald Leary at left guard last season, and Jonathan Cooper ventured to the 49ers in free agency.