Let him walk or re-sign him: Denzel Perryman
Going into this offseason the general manager and fans alike agree, linebacker should be the team’s number one priority. In fact this team was having an epic run that came to a halting stop in New England due to literally having no healthy linebackers. That would be the key word there, “healthy”. To start the season the team had rookie Kyzir White, who was drafted in the fourth round, and ultimately won the starting weak side linebacker job go down in week three. Another linebacker, Jatavis Brown, went down on the last week before the playoffs. He had been filling in fairly well after all the other injuries. Brown wasn’t exactly raising any eyebrows however he represented what was the last remaining and competent linebacker on the roster before he went down. None of these injuries where nearly as devastating to the run defense and linebacker core nearly as much as Denzel Perryman.
Say what you will about his injury history, but Perryman is an absolute heat seeking missile. In fact it would be a safe bet to say that Denzel is the hardest hitting player on the team. While is coverage skills are not exceptional by any means, he still reads the play well enough to be considered a 4 down linebacker. I had high hopes for Denzel when they had drafted him and although he hasn’t quite made the impact that I thought he might, he has still done a very good job. I still believe that with a couple extra impressive defensive tackles in front of him that he could still substantially improve. In fact the only knock on him that I would have and say is that of his durability. He has yet to have one full season at the pro level. He was having a pretty good season before going down in week 10. One could notice a significant difference in how they ran the defense afterwards and how the run stopping ability for this unit decreased. All in all I hope the team drafts a middle linebacker in the first round, second at the absolute latest. However I would say to give Denzel a one year prove it deal. This would not only add depth but if a middle linebacker is drafted high this year than in could spark something in him. Think of how Drew Brees suddenly became Drew Brees after Philip Rivers was drafted, sometimes these guys start to live up to their potential when they feel that the job security is gone. I would say that worst case scenario you have a slew of talented linebackers if you keep Perryman along with drafting one and that is necessarily a bad problem to have.