Broncos will not pick up option for LB Shane Ray for '19 season

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Facing a Thursday deadline, the Denver Broncos will not engage the fifth-year option in linebacker Shane Ray's contract, multiple sources told ESPN, confirming multiple reports.

Ray, who was the Broncos' first-round pick in 2015, had one sack as he finished the 2017 season on injured reserve after three wrist surgeries. The 2018 season will now be a prove-it campaign for Ray as he, without a significant change of heart by the team overnight, will now be an unrestricted free agent next March.

The Broncos selected Bradley Chubb with the No. 5 pick of the draft. Regarded as the best defensive player in the draft, Chubb will line up at outside linebacker and is expected to be in the Broncos' lineup quickly, perhaps even as the starter alongside Von Miller.

On Saturday night, Broncos president of football operations/general manager John Elway said he was "undecided'' about whether the team would engage Ray's fifth year. By not doing so, it will mark the second time in the past three years that the Broncos have not added the fifth year for a former first-round pick.

The Broncos did not engage the fifth year for nose tackle Sylvester Williams, the team's first-round pick in 2013 who left in free agency after the 2016 season. Last year, the Broncos did engage the fifth year for cornerback Bradley Roby, who is expected to replace Aqib Talib in the starting lineup in 2018.

Ray has spent much of the offseason promising a rebound from last year's injury, saying he was essentially playing "one-armed'' after suffering the wrist injury in training camp. He also took to social media this weekend after the Broncos selected Chubb, posting a variety of messages on Twitter.

After some exchanges with some of his Twitter followers after Chubb's selection, Ray posted "No more social media. I'm going dark" with a peace sign emoji.

Ray's best year statistically was 2016, when he revamped his offseason conditioning and said he also changed his diet. Playing alongside Miller and DeMarcus Ware, Ray finished that season with eight sacks and 48 tackles.

The Broncos traded up to select Ray, who was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year in his final season at Missouri, with the 23rd overall pick in the 2015 draft.