When it comes to defense, the one thing that can really elevate a unit and set the tone for an entire game is the guys who can flat out thump. Im talking really laying the wood and dishing out some bone crushing hits. It’s really like a prize fight when a guy wears down his opponent with body shots. Well in todays NFL and all the safety rules being as they are now we see less of these type of hits than we used to as they are harder to deliver without helmet to helmet or hitting a defenceless receiver. The players who can issue punishment like this on legal hits should be valued highly. Well it just so happens one is Derwin James who we have been missing due to injury and the other is none other than the heat seeking missle himself Denzel Perryman!
Denzel had himself a career year of sorts. It likely will go unnoticed by many though as the former coaching staff kept him on limited snaps (317). I was perplexed by this all season and still continue to be honestly. I say this because every time Denzel was on the field he made an immediate impact and the struggling run defense got noticeably better when he was on the field. Yet for some reason Bradley kept rolling with what he thought was a better coverage package I guess. Just to put things into perspective so you know im not over exaggerating; Denzel graded out with a overall 83.3 total defensive grade on the season which is 3rd best in the entire NFL. However, he failed to meet the minimum number of snaps to be officially recognised for such a feat. He also logged a 86.3 overall grade against the run. The team needed help against the run so there is no excuse for him not seeing more snaps than he did. If we look at the box score statistics you see 48 tackles, 3 for a loss, 2 QB hits, 1 forced fumble, and 1 pass deflection. Not eye popping numbers? Well when you consider the total snap count i mentioned earlier then it is indeed very impressive.
Moving forward whenever you have a change in coaching it’s hard to tell if they want to simply just bring in their own guys or if they are open minded to what is already there. The team did bring in a defensive minded coach so one would think someone of Denzel’s caliber would be valued highly by Brandon Staley. If his plan is to have physical linebackers then it should be a no brainer.
Most of what Denzel earned on his last contract was in signing bonuses, this past season he made 3 million. 2 million in signing bonus and 1 million in base salary. You saw something similar when the team signed Chris Harris Jr last offseason. The vast majority of the pay was in signing bonus so that it didn’t count against the salary cap too much. It’s important to remember that Denzel is still just 28 as well. They should try to offer him a similar contract. I would say around 2 year 8 million. If they can make 2.5 million per year in signing bonus then that would be financially viable for the team as only 1.5 would count against the cap. I personally would offer him 5 million per year for 3 years but with the owners likely being very cheap this off-season due to what they will say was a “lack of fans and profit” so the first option is more realistic of what might actually happen. Either way Denzel needs to be a key factor in this defense moving forward.