Where does Denzel Perryman’s vaccination status leave the Panthers?

(Alex Hicks Jr.-USA TODAY NETWORK) Denzel Perryman
(Alex Hicks Jr.-USA TODAY NETWORK) Denzel Perryman /

Carolina Panthers linebacker Denzel Perryman admits he is not vaccinated against COVID-19 ahead of the 2021 season.

Denzel Perryman has had an interesting start to his first camp as a member of the Carolina Panthers. The former Los Angeles Charger first picked up a speeding ticket on the drive to Wofford College in Spartanburg for training camp, then he informed members of the assembled media he was not vaccinated and has no plans to get it.

Now with the restrictions placed on unvaccinated players going into the season, this could be something of a worry for Matt Rhule and his staff.

Some of the restrictions are as follows.

  • Players who have not been vaccinated are not permitted to eat meals with teammates.
  • Only 15 unvaccinated players can work out in the weight room at a given time.
  • Players who are not fully vaccinated must travel on a separate plane.
  • Unvaccinated players are prohibited from leaving the team hotel and interacting with people while traveling.

Perryman is well within his rights to not take the vaccine as it’s not been made a requirement by the NFL. Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley has been staunch regarding his views on not getting the vaccine, with others also voicing their displeasure about the current rules being implemented by the league.

In recent weeks the Panthers were listed amongst the teams with the highest vaccination rate, so Perryman’s stance may cause issues.

The 2017 second-round pick was open when asked about his hesitancy in getting the vaccine to prevent serious illness regarding COVID-19.

"“Nothing against it. I mean, I know people that got the vaccination and still caught COVID, so to me it’s like, ‘what’s the point? At the end of the day it is my choice. I know unvaccinated players can’t do this and can’t do that. When it comes to family, you can’t do this or that. But it is what it is. It doesn’t bother me. Like I said, it is my choice.”"

One can only speculate on what Perryman’s status will mean ahead of the upcoming season. It’s possible that internally things have been discussed within the organization and the linebacker’s status will not be an issue, even though it will make things a little restricted on his part.

The University of Miami product has been billed to play a big role for Carolina this season after signing a two-year, $6 million deal.

After the retirement of seven-time Pro Bowler Luke Kuechly at the end of the 2019 season and the failure of free-agent signing Tahir Whitehead, Perryman was expected to start alongside veteran Shaq Thompson who struggled without the presence of the perennial All-Pro alongside him for the first time in his career.

However, if the Panthers staff feel that Perryman can’t contribute fully due to the restrictions on him, they may call on Jermaine Carter to fill the starting inside linebacker role.

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Carter has been getting the majority of first-team reps over the first few days of training camp. Whether this is down to Perryman’s vaccination status is another matter entirely.