NEW YORK — Breshad Perriman insists his late-season breakout last year was merely just a promising start.
For him to live up to his own expectations.
And, to finally prove the doubters wrong.
“I think that was just a sneak peek of what’s to come for this season and many other seasons past this season,” the New York Jets wide receiver said. “I just feel like that was a tiny glimpse and I’m looking forward to building from that little run I had last season.”
Perriman was arguably the NFL’s most productive wide receiver during the last month of last season for Tampa Bay. He caught 25 passes for 506 yards and five touchdowns in the Buccaneers’ final five games while becoming Jameis Winston’s go-to guy after injuries to Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
It was a burst in production unlike any other the 26-year-old receiver has had in a career that has been mostly underwhelming.
“It was definitely just a matter of opportunity and taking advantage of that opportunity,” Perriman said during a conference call. “Unfortunately, they suffered injuries and it forced me to go into a bigger role and forced me to have more opportunities and I just really capitalized on it.”
And, not just on the field.
Perriman turned it into a nice payday from the Jets, who gave him a one-year deal worth up to $8 million and includes $6 million guaranteed. Just hours after New York lost Robby Anderson to the Carolina Panthers in free agency last week, general manager Joe Douglas immediately replaced him with a player whose speed and athletic abilities could help fill the void.
“I bring a lot of speed, a lot of big playmaking ability to this team,” Perriman said. “I’ve got nothing but respect for Robby and I know he had a great career as far as with the Jets. But I know that what I bring to the table is going to be great as well.
“I’m really eager to get to meet my teammates and get to work and prove the ones that have any doubt in their mind wrong.”
There are plenty of naysayers because Perriman simply hasn’t had the type of career — yet — that many expected.
The son of former NFL wide receiver Brett Perriman was a first-round pick of Baltimore in 2015; Douglas scouted him for the Ravens. Perriman’s speed coming out of Central Florida was mesmerizing, especially after he twice put up times under 4.3 seconds in the 40-yard dash during his college pro day. All that, plus his size — 6-foot-2 and 209 pounds — and production — 115 catches, 2,243 yards and 16 touchdowns in three seasons — made him appear destined for NFL stardom.
But an injured knee wiped out his rookie season, and he struggled to make an impact over the next three years. Perriman was cut after training camp in 2018, picked up by Washington and waived five days later. He ended up signing with Cleveland in the middle of that season and had 16 catches for 340 yards and two touchdowns.
Perriman landed in Tampa Bay as a free agent last winter and ended up with career bests in receptions (36), yards receiving (645) and touchdowns (six) — with most of that coming in the final month.
“I’m really excited about his speed, his ability to take the top off the defence,” Douglas said. “I feel like he can come in here and make an impact. I feel like he’ll be able to develop chemistry with Sam (Darnold) moving forward.”
That’s certainly the hope, especially since Darnold and Anderson built a solid rapport during the past two seasons. Anderson was a deep threat whose route running and ability to compete for balls in the air had improved significantly. There was a trust factor between the receiver and quarterback, and now Perriman will have a chance to be that guy in Adam Gase’s offence.
And, on a regular and consistent basis. Just like the last five games with the Buccaneers.
“I believe it’s going to happen now because knowing Coach Gase, he’s definitely an offensive-minded coach,” Perriman said. “You see that the receivers that he had and the numbers they put up every time in this system, I have no doubt in my mind this is definitely going to be a season to remember for me.”