The Buffalo Bills have continuously tried to improve the pass rush over the last few years. Whether through the NFL Draft or free-agent signings, general manager Brandon Beane has consistently pursued a better, more efficient pass rush. Some of those moves have panned out, and others have been big misses, but the fact remains that Beane has remained unsatisfied with his group at defensive end.
With that in mind, it isn’t terribly surprising that the Bills are combing all possible avenues for pass-rush help. With Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Trevor Lawrence, Tua Tagovailoa, Aaron Rodgers, and Lamar Jackson in the conference, it’s no surprise that the team wants to negatively impact the opposing quarterback. Truthfully, even if it were you or I playing quarterback for the opposition, that would still be the goal.
In today’s edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we discuss Beane’s latest signing along the defensive edge — a former first-round pick looking to break back into the NFL.
Name: Shane Ray
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 245 pounds
Age: 30 (31 on 5/18/2024)
Experience/Draft: 5; selected by the Denver Broncos in the first round (No. 23 overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft
Acquired: Signed with Buffalo on 5/13/2023
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Ray’s contract numbers haven’t been released by either Spotrac or Over the Cap, but we can assume that it’s a one-year deal at the veteran’s minimum with minimal, if any, guaranteed money.
2022 Recap: Ray spent the 2022 in the Canadian Football League with the Toronto Argonauts. It was his second year with the team. He had six sacks, good for second on the team, to go with 13 tackles and two forced fumbles over the course of 13 games. A bicep tear ended his season early, as he suffered the injury on October 1.
Positional outlook: Ray is listed as a linebacker, but he’s likely an edge rusher in the same vein as Von Miller — his former teammate in Denver. Boogie Basham, A.J. Epenesa, Kingsley Jonathan, Shaq Lawson, and Greg Rousseau round out the group. Kameron Cline is listed as a defensive tackle, but he has spent some time at defensive end, as well, so there may be some fluidity up front throughout camp and the preseason.
2023 Offseason: Ray is healthy and he was a tryout player at the team’s rookie minicamp. He’s read to roll for OTAs.
2023 Season outlook: Given all the investment along the defensive line over the last few years, I’d like to be able to look at the group up front and assume that Ray has no chance at making the roster. However, with the jury still out on whether Epenesa and Basham can be solid, consistent contributors, I don’t think it’s entirely impossible for Ray to make the roster. With that said, he hasn’t been with an NFL team since the 2019 preseason, and he hasn’t played in an NFL game since 2018. So while it may not be impossible, it is incredibly unlikely that Ray makes the roster. Perhaps he’ll have a spot on the practice squad waiting for him, but it would take a ridiculously strong preseason for him to make the team.