This is sad to say, but we may have seen Denzel Perryman in a Los Angeles Chargers uniform for the last time. It breaks my heart especially, because I loved his tenacity on the field, his highlight hits, and how the whole defense’s attitude shifted once he gets on the field.
Sadly all good things come to an end and this is his last season under contract and his long list of injuries may cause the Chargers to look in a different direction at the middle linebacker position for now and into the offseason.
First, let’s look at the now, the Chargers just ended a six-game winning streak, the run defense had been slowly improving week in and week out, but with Perryman out the Chargers run defense has taken a traumatic blow.
Hayes Pullard looked slightly impressive during his time out there, being quick to the line of scrimmage to stuff rushing lanes. Jatavis Brown also impressed many with a PFF rating of 89.9, showcasing his speed and his tackling ability (missed 0 tackles).
Pullard can only be on the field for so long. I don’t believe he can be a starter but he is a very good rotational player. The scary thing is Brown is a hit and miss player, we all expected him to be a star last season and he regressed from his rookie campaign.
Brown wasn’t doing that much better this season as the rookie safety-converted-linebacker Kyzir White took Brown’s starting linebacker position. That’s another thing, I believe Brown is best at the weak-side linebacker position as the Chargers need a true thumper for a linebacker that can also cover well in the middle of the defense to replace Perryman.
The two players that come to mind that can make an impact on this team areNavarro Bowman and Lawrence Timmons. Great players that are past their respected primes, but can be serviceable linebackers on a contending team.
Bowman is a veteran in this league that will add a sense of leadership to this locker room. Even with all the injuries Bowman has had, he has still proven that he has what it takes to play in this league with 89 tackles last season and an interception to go along with it.
Reports that the Cleveland Browns didn’t sign him even though they brought him in for a workout shows that there still might be some lingering issues with him which may cause the Chargers to steer clear.
The last free agent option to replace Perryman is Timmons. Unlike Bowman, Timmons, even though a veteran, does not have that leadership quality as shown by his disappearance from the Miami Dolphins a year ago.
That unneeded distraction can possibly derail this team’s opportunity to make a run at the Super Bowl. Although, his play has shown that he is still a solid linebacker in the NFL, with great blitzing and big-hitting ability while racking up 84 tackles last season. In the end though, for the rest of the season, I think that I would rather go with Bowman starting for this defense being the veteran leader that this defense needs.
Like I said prior, I believe this might be the last time we see Perryman as a member of the Chargers, so that means we need to start looking for our starting middle linebacker of the future.
I don’t believe we will have a chance at either Devin White or Mack Wilson in this upcoming draft just due to how good they are (Top 20 draft picks) and where we will end up picking in the draft (25th pick overall or lower). But a sleeper that I would keep my eye on is Devin Bush II.
Bush is an undersized linebacker that is a tenacious player, flys around the field, crushes ball carriers with striking blows and is also amazing in coverage. If I had to do a player comparison for Bush, it would be a faster, more coverage-savvy Perryman. I haven’t evaluated all of the linebackers that I wanted, but keep an eye out for Bush II in the Day 2 or early Day 3 of the draft.
In all seriousness, I want to take this time to send my condolences to Perryman and his family.
I know his goal this year was to play all 16 games and sadly, he is unable to complete this goal. As a player I know that he must be devastated. As from what I can see his is an amazing player and an even better man.
Perryman is a starting middle linebacker in this league and if the Chargers are unable to reach an agreement on a new contract, I wish him the best of luck whereever he goes, someone will get an astounding linebacker. I wish him a speedy recovery and as always, Bolt Up.