Shane Ray doesn’t blame the Broncos for not picking up his option

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 10: Outside linebacker Shane Ray #56 of the Denver Broncos celebrates a defensive pass broken up at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on December 10, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 10: Outside linebacker Shane Ray #56 of the Denver Broncos celebrates a defensive pass broken up at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on December 10, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

Former first-round pick Shane Ray said he doesn’t blame the Denver Broncos for not picking up his option after his injury last season…

Denver Broncos outside linebacker and former first-round pick Shane Ray was the team’s top breakout candidate a season ago, and now he may very well be entering his final season with the team.

The Broncos opted to decline Ray’s fifth-year option on his rookie contract, making him a free agent at season’s end.

The writing is seemingly on the wall with Ray having a couple of options.

Either he plays well and prices himself out of the Broncos’ spending range, or he doesn’t play well and the team lets him walk for that reason.

Denver’s primary concern with Ray right now should be his health, and considering some of the revelations of the severity of his wrist injury last season, perhaps not picking up the option wasn’t as bad of an idea as I had initially thought…

"“Everybody thought I had a simple wrist injury. Well, you don’t have three surgeries in the season for a simple wrist injury. I dislocated my entire wrist. I had to get it screwed back together and repair a main tendon in my wrist. I still made the decision to come out and play, and I only had one hand. That’s the heart in me. A lot of people say, ‘Don’t play, take injury reserve.’ Maybe I could’ve done that, but I’m a fighter. It just didn’t feel right for me. Even if I had a little bit in me to sit on the bench. That’s the kind of guy I am, I am going to keep fighting. That’s all I know how to do.”Shane Ray (quotes via Broncos PR)"

Ray’s return to the field last season was courageous and a great show of toughness, but the team should have probably overruled him with that kind of serious injury.

He’s not done dealing with the aftermath of that injury and said that ‘it’s getting there’ when asked about how things are going.

As for not getting his contract option picked up? Head coach Vance Joseph said that Ray was obviously ‘disappointed’ by it, but Ray also understands the Broncos’ side of things.

"“It’s business. Unfortunately, my injury happened. Do you invest $9 million dollars in the guy who had three wrist surgeries the year prior? Maybe not. I can’t blame [President of Football Operations/General Manager] John [Elway] for that, and I can’t focus on that. That’s not something I’m going to allow to mess up my focus or my commitment to the team. I’m going to play as hard as I can and do what I was brought here to do.”Shane Ray"

Ray was on a really nice trajectory prior to the wrist injury. The Broncos had a need for someone to step up in the pass rush department with DeMarcus Ware retired, and the timing was absolutely perfect for Ray in 2017 prior to his injury.

More from Predominantly Orange

He had made a significant impact on the 2015 and 2016 defenses as a reserve rusher, including eight sacks in 2016.

The wrist injury caused Ray to lose a lot of weight (since he couldn’t do much upper-body training) and he was forced to play with one hand, essentially.

He posted just one sack last season as a result.

Getting closer to his ideal playing weight of 245-250 pounds, Ray is inching closer toward a return to full health and full strength.

Even if it’s just for this one season, it’s going to be really exciting to see what the Broncos’ defensive front seven can do. They have the deepest group of edge rushers in the NFL, led of course by Von Miller.

Along with Miller, Shaq Barrett, and now Bradley Chubb, Ray has a chance to stand out in a group of really good players and be that force the Broncos thought he could be when they picked him in 2015.