For years, the Raiders have been searching for help in their linebacking corps.
On Wednesday night, Las Vegas hopes to have found a solution.
Las Vegas acquired linebacker Denzel Perryman and a 2022 seventh-round pick from the Carolina Panthers for a 2022 sixth-round pick. The move is significant to the Raiders for several different reasons.
Raiders linebackers Nicholas Morrow and Javin White have suffered injuries in recent weeks. Both could miss several games to begin the season. Things have gotten so dire for Las Vegas that the team had flirted with having Karl Joseph or Johnathan Abram play at the spot during dime situations.
The good news for the Raiders is that Perryman is a veteran who can provide support in coverage and run defense. Last season, the Raiders finished 26th in the NFL in passing defense as they gave up 263.3 yards per game. Las Vegas also allowed 125.8 yards per game on the ground, which was 24th in the league.
“Well, I mean it’s great competition there, but we’ve always said that if guys really practice well and show that they’ve earned the trust of the coaches, we’re going to try to find a package for them,” Raiders defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said about the linebacking unit during training camp.
“Whether that’s a dime package or a nickel package, a big nickel, something, where if a guy performs we’ll try to find different packages for him. So, we keep an open mind to that, but obviously, we are going to have our core guys that we go with. At this stage of this game, everybody’s got to be ready to play; you never know what could happen.”
Denzel Perryman, who worked with Raiders defensive coordinator Gus Bradley with the Chargers, is a player who can come in and make an immediate impact. He played the first six seasons of his career with the Chargers, including last season when Perryman played in 13 games with six starts.
According to Pro Football Focus, only one starting linebacker in the league, Fred Warner, was given a higher grade last year than Perryman’s 83.3. Obviously, by the aforementioned numbers from a year ago, the Raiders had difficulty defending running backs and tight ends in coverage, and Perryman can undoubtedly help with that.
The biggest question in regards to Perryman is his injury history.
During his 162 days with the Panthers, Perryman didn’t see the field much as he dealt with a hip flexor injury. Once that healed, Perryman sustained another injury after having his foot stepped on by another player.
Because of those injuries, Perryman could not participate in joint practices or any preseason game action against the Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens.
Perryman has never played an entire 16 game (now 17 game) season in the league. Last year for the Chargers, Perryman registered 48 tackles and 3 tackles for loss.
At only 28 years old, 2021 is a critical year for Perryman. While the Raiders will have him under contract until after the 2022 season, Las Vegas can release Perryman without any dead cap penalty before the start of the league year.
While it is safe to say Denzel Perryman will have a big role against the Ravens on September 13, the way he plays this season will go a long way towards determining his future with the club.
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