The Denver Broncos didn’t want Shane Ray to undergo wrist surgery again, but he shouldn’t miss a significant portion of the regular season.
Shane Ray’s history of wrist injuries was a big reason the Broncos declined to exercise his fifth-year option. The fact that he’s set to undergo his fourth procedure on his left wrist certainly makes that look like the right choice. However, the news isn’t all bad for the Broncos and their talented linebacker.
Team sources are actually encouraged by Ray’s recent diagnosis. Of course, the team’s preference would have been for Ray to avoid surgery altogether, but that wasn’t a realistic possibility. News that he’s only slated to miss three months is actually a relief to many in the Broncos organization.
That does put Ray in a race to get ready for Week One. Even if he doesn’t quite make it back for the opener, he should be in position to play early in the 2018 season. Missing two or three games won’t be a disaster for the player or his Broncos’ teammates.
The real concern is whether or not the latest procedure can be the end of his wrist injuries. The same problem cost him eight games in 2017. There’s no guarantee that this “clean up” can prevent the injury from recurring again this season. If that were to happen, Ray’s potential free agency value would be decimated by the injury.
If, on the other hand, he can recover and play a healthy season for the Broncos he could enter the offseason with a ton of momentum. It’s possible the Broncos could eventually regret their decision not to lock him in with a fifth-year salary of just $9.23 million. Pass rushers on the open market can certainly command higher salaries than that.
You have to believe that Broncos decision makers are comfortable with their decision to pass on his option at this point. They want to see him put a healthy season together before they commit any appreciable money to him in the future.
Shane Ray still has a chance to become a key part of the Broncos’ future, but his chances are running out. His latest wrist injury won’t end his career in Denver, but it will remove any margin for error left in his 2018 season.