When news broke of the Green Bay Packers free agency acquisition of Lerentee McCray, Packers fans across the country let out a cumulative … “Oh…who?”
*Google Lerentee McCray*
A typical Packers free agency acquisition (aside the few times General Manager Ted Thompson broke the mold with a Charles Woodson or Julius Peppers). Relatively low-risk and a minor investment.
McCray seems excited.
But unlike some of the players the Packers like to take fliers on as they begin their off-season program, McCray has some experience – having been part of the NFL’s best defense last season.
McCray, 25, has far from gaudy numbers in his two seasons of on-field experience with the Denver Broncos – 21 tackles, 1.5 sacks and one forced fumble in 28 career games – but got most of his work on special teams.
Of the 28 plays McCray was on the field during the Broncos Super Bowl triumph over the Carolina Panthers back in February, all 28 were on special teams. And over the course of his NFL career, McCray has taken almost double the snaps on special teams as he has on defense.
Legitimate reps as a pass rusher were difficult to find for McCray on such an elite defense, and would have been difficult again this season if the Broncos chose to exercise their option to tender him as a restricted free agent (the lowest, worth $1.67 million). Denver returns Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller, along with linebackers DeMarcus Ware, Shane Rey and Shaquil Barrett.
McCray will join a pass rushing unit that could use a little bolstering, even with Clay Matthews’ impending return to outside linebacker. Their OLB’s combined for a pass rushing grade of -8.3 in 2015 according to Pro Football Focus. (0.0 is average.)
All that being said, our sample size of what this guy can do is quite small. He sat out all of 2013 with an ankle injury, and played about 11 percent of the Broncos defensive snaps over the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
So, should we get excited about this unproven, undrafted free agent out of Florida – a guy who has battled some injury and never played more than 13 games in a season? Probably not, but the 6’2”, 246-pound linebacker does have professional experience with a dominant defense.
The move was very low risk, and McCray joins only four other full-time outside rushers (Matthews, Peppers, Nick Perry and Jayrone Elliot). McCray will have the chance to break into a good defense, and should have an instant impact on special teams.