One of the best moves the Las Vegas Raiders in the offseason happened as it was ending. As training camp was wrapping up for the team, they started to get hit with injuries at linebackers, including expected starter Nicholas Morrow, who didn’t end up playing all season. This led to the team trading for Denzel Perryman from the Carolina Panthers for a sixth-round pick.
Perryman quickly became the starting middle linebacker and cemented himself as one of the Raiders’ best defensive players. He set a team record with 154 combined tackles and was third in the NFL in solo tackles with 102. For his efforts, he was selected for this season’s Pro Bowl.
However, his performance this season wasn’t good enough for some. Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report recently dropped an article stating that the Raiders should cut Perryman. Knox cited that the linebacker may not fit with Josh McDaniels’ new coaching staff due to his issues in pass coverage. Pro Football Focus gave Perryman a 57.5 coverage grade this season, which was 41st among linebackers but was given the second-highest pass-rush grade among linebackers.
It would be one thing to cut him if he was making a ton of money but he’s only set to make $3 million next season, per Spotrac. Considering his play last season and low cap hit, it would make no sense for the new Raiders brass to release him. Perryman saw the article and gave it a read. He simply stated that it will be motivation for him to get better.
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Perryman Planning to Work on Coverage Skills
Perryman has been in the NFL since 2015 and was always a solid player, but this was his breakout year. He was an impact player for the Raiders and quickly became a fan favorite. However, he’s well aware of what he can do better. He previously admitted that he needs to work on his ability in coverage and plans to put a lot of focus on it this offseason.
“All those people that like to tweet me and tell me I’m garbage in pass coverage, maybe in my offseason (they) can come teach me how to cover receivers and tight ends,” Perryman said after the season ended.
All things considered, Perryman could’ve been much worse in coverage. Fellow linebacker Cory Littleton was brought in previously due to his ability in coverage, but had a 45.7 coverage grade this season, per Pro Football Focus.
Raiders Won’t Cut Perryman
Whether or not Perryman has a role on the defense this upcoming season could largely depend on who is hired as defensive coordinator. If Gus Bradley retains the job, the linebacker will almost certainly be the starting middle linebacker. Don “Wink” Martindale and Jerod Mayo are a couple of names who have been linked to the job and both have experience as linebackers coaches.
They’ll likely be fans of Perryman’s willingness to adjust his game and tenacity on the field. It’s more likely that the linebacker gets an extension than it is for him to not be on the team next season.