One of the hidden bonuses of scrimmaging against the another squad is the opportunity to get an up-close look at some players your team might have an interest in.
Specifically, this round of preseason practices gave the Bears a chance to evaluate Broncos outside linebacker Shane Ray with a little more proximity. Ray was a rumored Bears target earlier in the offseason, is in a contract year (after Denver declined its fifth-year option on his rookie deal), finds himself buried at a position group the Broncos have loaded with talent, and fits one of the Bears’ most glaring needs.
But Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune isn’t so sure the Broncos are looking to move Ray out of the picture just yet. Further, Biggs wonders if the Bears have the pieces the Broncos would be looking for in a deal. But let’s consider it nonetheless.
According to Biggs, Denver’s biggest need at the moment is at cornerback, and that’s a position Chicago isn’t necessarily built to trade from right now. Maybe that would change if Kevin Toliver II, Michael Joseph, or one of the other undrafted free agents played their way into a position where they could make a move using someone from that position group. But it’s not like the Broncos would be beating down the doors to trade Ray for Marcus Cooper, whose struggles in Chicago have been notable.
All of that said, Ray has a post-hype sleeper feel to him. He was a 2015 first-round pick who has suffered through injuries and inconsistent play in an up-and-down three-year career. It’s possible that he could simply use a change of scenery, a different set of coaches, and a clean slate. The Bears could provide all three, but at what cost? Ray would surely come at a lighter price than Khalil Mack, but that says a lot about what the Broncos think of their former first-round pick … doesn’t it?
No, the Broncos’ asking price shouldn’t be high for what amounts to a one-year “prove it” deal on a star-crossed pass-rusher with a lengthy injury. But since the Bears are already without a 2019 second-round pick (sent to New England in the trade that netted Chicago Anthony Miller), I can see where the Bears could be wary to deal from their current collection of picks. Then again, the cost of doing business still shouldn’t be all that much.