'Be you and everything else will follow': How the Denzel Perryman trade greatly benefited him and the Raiders defense
BY LEVI EDWARDS | DIGITAL TEAM REPORTER
A series of unfortunate events in Los Angeles sealed Denzel Perryman's fate to become a Raider.
During the second day of joint practice with the Los Angles Rams in August, outside linebacker Nicholas Morrow was injured. Head Coach Jon Gruden vocally expressed in the offseason how much he felt the undrafted linebacker was going to be the heart of the defense. A few days later, the depth of the linebacker room continued to take a nose dive in SoFi Stadium. Javin White, another undrafted linebacker, was having a dominant showing in the preseason game against the Rams before going down with an injury.
Both were put on injured reserve to start to season.
Meanwhile in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Carolina Panthers were coming off a preseason loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Perryman had signed with the Panthers after spending six seasons with the Chargers – four of those seasons under Gus Bradley as his defensive coordinator. Perryman was trying to make the most out of his situation in Charlotte, despite dealing with a hip flexor injury that kept him out of action for most of Training Camp.
"I felt comfortable in Carolina," said Perryman. "I had to adjust to it, just coming from the West Coast to the East Coast. It was a different system so I had to adjust to the system. Being there in general, it was good. They got a lot of history there. I knew some former guys that played there. Some old teammates ... College alumni who I used to play with worked there.
"I talked to those and would run into those guys, but the atmosphere was alright."
Perryman's time in North Carolina was short-lived and not meant to be. Going into the regular season, he was behind Jermaine Carter Jr. on the depth chart for the starting middle linebacker position. As a free agent in the offseason, Perryman had some conversation with Gus Bradley about potentially reuniting in Las Vegas, however, it didn't work out at first.
With Morrow and White on the shelf indefinitely and Nick Kwiatkoski dealing with an injury at the time, Gruden and Bradley were faced with the challenge of trying to replenish their linebacking corps. The decision to trade for Perryman wasn't too hard to make, at least to Coach Gruden.
"He is a good player. Let's just say it like it is. He's a good linebacker. He's always been a good linebacker," Gruden said.
"He's healthy. He's had a hard time staying healthy. He knows this system and he's proven that he has talent and instincts, and he is a contact player. I guarantee he's proven that."
The trade to Las Vegas came as a shock, but not a surprise to Perryman. The 28-year-old had yet to play a down of football with the team he signed with nearly six months prior. It was made official on Sept. 1 that Perryman and a 2022 seventh-round pick were being sent to the Raiders in return for a 2022 sixth-round pick.
"I had just gotten home. I didn't know what to think of it," said Perryman. "I was just in building, somebody could've told me then. I didn't know how to feel or how to take it, but I'm here and I'm happy"
One of the first people to welcome him after the trade was none other than Gus Bradley.
"We talked on the phone and he was like, 'Look how things work out,' and I was like, 'Yeah, you have a point.'"