TAMPA – In 2019, wide receiver Breshad Perriman was a successful value free agent signing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Perriman, who signed a one-year, $4 million deal, finished the season with 36 catches for 645 yards (team-leading 17.9 yard per catch) and six touchdowns in 14 games, good for third on the team in all categories.
Now a free agent, the Buccaneers must decide whether to re-sign the 26-year-old receiver or let him test the free-agent market. It may not be in their hands, however.
What Tampa Should Do
The answer should be simple: the Buccaneers should re-sign the receiver. The reality is, it likely will be hard to do at a price Tampa likes.
At 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, Perriman is a good-sized receiver that had a career season in 2019. The 26-year-old Perriman posted over 100 receiving yards in each of his last three games of the 2019 season. Those came in his starts. But when Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are healthy, the Buccaneers have two 1,000-yard receivers and potential Pro Bowl players. Also, Evans (26) and Godwin (23) are still young, thus Perriman would never be more than the third wide receiver on the squad in the immediate future.
Last season, he played in 64 percent of the team’s offensive snaps. This includes those last three games. In his 10 non-starts, Perriman played in nearly 57 percent of the snaps. Tampa opened the game with three wide-receiver sets just three times, preferring to go with two-receiver, two tight-end sets.
Where It Gets Interesting
Since Perriman showed promise as a starter, there likely will be a market for him. Perriman won’t command the money of the top receivers there – A.J. Green, Amari Cooper and Emmanuel Sanders, who will set the market – but he could likely more than double his 2019 salary.
Similar receivers in 2018, former Buccaneer Adam Humphries signed a four-year deal worth $36 million with the Tennessee Titans. Also, Cole Beasley signed a four-year deal worth $7.25 million with the Buffalo Bills. Beasley finished with 67 catches for 778 yards and six scores, while Humphries had 37 grabs for 374 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games.
What is a third receiver, who caught nearly half his passes in the final three games when he started, worth? Is a third receiver worth $8 million? $10 million? Is Tampa willing to spend more than $25 million at the position, knowing they still must pay a quarterback and defensive line?
Tampa Bay has some young receivers in the wings – Scotty Miller and Justin Watson – who got valuable playing time last season. Miller caught 13 passes for 200 yards and a touchdown, while Watson had 15 grabs for 159 yards and two scores. They would be among the ones asked to fill the void if Perriman leaves. Also, there is free agency and the draft upcoming.
Perriman is from Georgia and went to college in Florida. This was his best year in his career. Maybe he is comfortable and wants to remain in Tampa Bay and will take less money. But if he wants to be a top receiver or get that money, he is likely going to move on.