HENDERSON, Nev. – As he often diagnoses the play on the field as a middle linebacker, Denzel Perryman knew. correct what was he going to ask of her as she stood at the pulpit.
However, that didn’t mean the Pro Bowler was comfortable being asked about NFL Network’s report that he was seeking a contract extension from the Las Vegas Raiders at the start of training camp.
“I knew it,” Perryman said under his breath, shaking his head slowly. “I knew it was coming, I knew it was coming.”
A room full of reporters laughed along with an amused Perryman.
“To answer that question,” he continued, “my agent, Ron Butler, handles it. I just want to play football. That’s it. I was waiting. [that question]. That’s why I sweat. I was waiting for that.”
Perryman then took a towel in his right hand and slowly wiped his face, which was glowing as much as it was grinning.
• What’s in the number? Ask newbies
• How Lamar handles the hype
• The sauce brings the bully
• Chiefs OL exceeds expectations
• Bills Davis has a chance
RAIDERS, UNDER New management with general manager Dave Ziegler and coach Josh McDaniels coming over from the New England Patriots in January have extended the contracts of defensive end Max Crosby, quarterback Derek Carr and wide receiver Hunter Renfrow. Las Vegas also acquired All-Pro receiver Davante Adams and signed him to a new contract, while Darren Waller appears set to sign a new deal with Las Vegas that has more than $26.4 million in salary cap space.
So yes, after the best season of his seven-year career and entering the final year of his contract, who can blame Perryman for wanting a little security?
Note: Perryman’s 154 tackles last season were the most by a Raiders player since 2000, the sixth most in the NFL in 2021, and he was the first Raiders inside linebacker to be named to the league’s All-Star Game since Matt Millen. In 1988
Inheriting a playmaker on the defensive secondary has been a success for the new coaching staff.
“Denzel, he brings a lot of juice every day, and you can tell when he comes in, he’s got that booming voice, and everybody knows when he’s talking, it’s usually something important,” McDaniels said. “He’s very confident. He keeps his cool, but he takes football seriously. And I don’t know many people who work the way he does.
“He’s trying to work hard to get better at things that maybe he hasn’t done as well, which is what I love about him … pushes his teammates, holds them accountable. Leads the same way every day. A very consistent presence our building does not go up and down [like] roller. If there is any problem, rest assured that Denzel will bring it to my attention as soon as possible. And if you go to Denzel with something that we need from the team, he’ll do it. He has the respect of the entire locker room. I really, really enjoy being with him every day.”
Perryman arrived in Las Vegas in an interesting way. After spending his first six seasons with the Chargers, he signed a two-year, $6 million free agent contract with the Carolina Panthers in the spring of 2021.
But after a strange offseason and vowing not to take the COVID-19 vaccine, he was traded to the Raiders along with a 2022 seventh-round draft pick at the end of training camp in exchange for a 2022 sixth-round pick.
Perryman resisted getting hit until, as he said at the time, he couldn’t stand feeling left out of the locker room anymore.
“I feel like I’m still trying to get my feet wet here,” Perryman said of Las Vegas in general. “I was traded here. It was unexpected, but it was a blessing in disguise for me. I mean, I had my best season last year and I’ll try to build on that. But just being here, I’m not completely locked in yet. I’m still trying, like I said, to get my feet wet.”
Injuries were a problem for Perriman. he never started more than 11 games last season last year. During his career, he appeared in 84 of a possible 113 regular season games.
But after starting 15 games, plus missing two in last season’s playoff loss to the Cincinnati Bengals while on the COVID list, Perryman appears to be a building block for new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. Perryman and second-year player Devine Diablo are the only returning quarterbacks for the Raiders.
“You can’t lead if you’re not contributing and you’re not consistent in your contribution,” Graham said. “And he comes in the same way every day: high energy, willingness to learn, accountability. If he messes up, he’s willing to take the blame for it, and he holds others accountable. And because he’s at that position as a linebacker. He works well to communicate between players and coaches. And it’s important from that position.”
Whether it’s 110 steps or the monsoon floods the field, Perryman is in permanent camp, shaking his heart with messages of social change and reminding whoever is listening to “hydrate.”
“He’s the heart of our defense,” edge rusher Chandler Jones said. “I reached out to him when I first got here and we just gel like that… I’m definitely a fan.”
Safety Duron Harmon agreed.
“He’s the life of the party,” Harmon said. “But then when he gets on the field, it’s like the switch just clicks on it.”
Indeed, Perryman had 10 games with at least 10 tackles last season, including 14 in the Week 3 overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins.
Machine, albeit one with an injury history coming off a career season, who looks like a fundamental piece, even though he’ll turn 30 in December and enter the final year of his contract.
Yes, there is some “energy” around Perryman, the centerpiece of a revamped Raiders defense.
“I mean, I’m just excited for the season in general,” Perryman said. “Everything is new. new coaches, new lineup, new faces, new scheme and new year. So energetically, I mean I’m always smiling and high energy.”
It’s almost as if he saw this whole event.