What would Denzel Perryman bring to the Carolina Panthers?

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) Denzel Perryman
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) Denzel Perryman /

Denzel Perryman appears as if he’s going to test the free-agent market this spring, and the Carolina Panthers should make a bold bid for the linebacker.

To say the Carolina Panthers missed the presence of Luke Kuechly in 2020 would be something of an understatement. The Pro Football Hall of Fame-bound linebacker hung up his cleats after a glittering spell with the franchise and although things improved somewhat when Jermaine Carter replaced free-agent signing Tahir Whitehead on the interior, not having the former first-round pick’s intelligence and playmaking ability at the second level really hurt Phil Snow’s defense throughout the campaign.

This is an area where the Panthers need to reinforce in the coming weeks. Whether it comes during free agency or the 2021 NFL Draft is irrelevant, just as long as it arrives in some form or another.

One name that looks set to test the free-agent market is Denzel Perryman. The Los Angeles Chargers player’s agent told NFL Network insider Ian Rappaport that they are going to look at every possible option before coming to a decision on his future and he represents a talented individual who could come in and instantly strengthen a problematic positional group in Carolina.

Nobody will ever fully replace what Kuechly brought to the Panthers.

But Perryman has all the qualities needed to make a real go of things if there is a mutual interest between both parties.

Denzel Perryman is a good scheme fit with the Carolina Panthers.

The former second-round pick was used more as a rotational player by the Chargers in 2020. However, he still managed to come up with some eye-catching performances on his way to an impressive 83.3 grade from Pro Football Focus in 13 appearances – six of which he started.

Perryman’s career was derailed from 2017-18 with a couple of serious injuries that restricted him to 16 games over a two-year span. These issues now seem to be behind the Miami product and it’s clear he wants to make the most out of this opportunity for more financial security while he can.

Carolina has freed up enough on their salary-cap to go after Perryman if they identify him as a player who can immediately contribute. He possesses a sideline-to-sideline threat that was sorely missing last time out, with his ability to generate pressure and also assist in coverage two other traits that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Perryman plays with an electrifying desire that fits the mold of what head coach Matt Rhule is trying to install throughout the organization. The veteran should now be at the peak of his powers with relatively low mileage on the clock, so even though he hasn’t ruled out a return to Los Angeles, a discussion needs to be had regarding his potential arrival.

As is the case with every decision the Panthers make in free agency, the money involved will be the main stumbling block. Finances are tight across the league due to COVID-19 revenue losses, which might mean Perryman is willing to take a little less with a view to being a more prominent starter elsewhere.

Again, this is something Carolina could provide.

Perryman has not been on the field for more than 40 percent of the Chargers’ defensive snaps since 2015. Despite this, he has made the most out of opportunities when they’ve arrived, which is further reflected in his career stats.

Denzel Perryman’s career stats

  • 2,204 snaps
  • 349 tackles
  • 26 tackles for loss
  • 8 quarterback hits
  • 5 sacks
  • 3 forced fumbles
  • 6 passes defended
  • 3 interceptions

Simply put, there are plenty of reasons to believe that Perryman would thrive even more with a little extra responsibility on his shoulders.

Carolina papered over the cracks in the first year of Kuechly’s absence with mixed success. But with the prospect of stud rookie Jeremy Chinn moving back to safety after starring at outside linebacker, the need for quality becomes even more of a necessity.

The Panthers could do far worse than look in Perryman’s direction. He might be a little undersized compared to popular perceptions of what an inside linebacker should be, but that should not detract from what a tremendous player he is and might become with additional reps alongside some dynamic young stars in Carolina.