The Buccaneers nabbed free agent wide receiver Breshad Perriman from the Cleveland Browns on a one-year deal that was made official on Thursday. Perriman comes complete with a 21.3 yards-per-catch average in 2018 and a high ceiling for big play-making ability, something the Bucs will have a lot of use for under new Head Coach Bruce Arians’ offensive system.
“I feel like I have big-play ability,” Perriman said of what he brings to the table. “That’s really my main focus. I try to make every play, no matter if it’s big or small, but I feel like I can stretch the field vertically and feel like I can make small plays into big plays.”
Arians has engineered some of the most high-flying offenses during his time in this league, whether it be as a head coach or offensive coordinator. His propensity for taking risks and taking shots down the field has been consistent in all of them. In his book, The Quarterback Whisperer, he notes that each of his plays are designed with an option for a touchdown (no matter the field position) and a checkdown. It’s up to the quarterback to decide when to take that touchdown opportunity – but it’s always there. And a speedy wideout who can get down the field in a hurry, like Perriman, who ran a 4.24 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine in 2015, is a key component in making his system tick.
“It’s definitely exciting,” Perriman said of his opportunity to play under Arians in an offense known for that aggressiveness. “That’s a huge part of this whole process. I just know the amount of deep shots that he likes to take down the field so it’s going to be exciting, man. I just can’t wait.”
The other part of that equation is having a quarterback who has the arm strength to throw the ball that deep. Enter Jameis Winston, who has always wowed with his ability to get the ball 50-60 yards down the field. This past season, Winston unleashed a season-long 64-yard bomb that was caught by wide receiver Mike Evans for a touchdown through the rain during Week 15 in Baltimore. His season-long in 2017? A 70 yarder.
“I’m getting excited just talking about it,” Perriman said of playing with his new quarterback. “I know that Jameis’ arm is incredible. Tampa Bay as an organization just allowing me to have the opportunity to play under him and get the chance to make these big plays under Jameis is crazy.”
Perriman and Winston are already familiar with each other, too. They were both first-round picks in 2015, with Winston selected first overall by the Buccaneers and Perriman selected at No. 26 by the Baltimore Ravens. The two went through all the pre-draft events together and Perriman called his first conversation with Winston since being signed by Tampa Bay a reunion of sorts.
“Me and Jameis came out the same year, so I knew him during the whole draft process,” Perriman said. “We kind of got cool during that process. Just to be back with him, I know he has a great personality and his confidence is crazy so just to be back with him means everything.”
Perriman came on strong in the latter part of the 2018 season after he was picked up by the Browns in October. In a Week 13 contest against the Bucs’ division-rival Carolina Panthers, Perriman had just two catches, yes, but they went for 81 total yards. His 21.3 yards-per-reception average across the 10 games he played in Cleveland is good for the best mark among receivers with at least 15 catches in 2018.
As with any wide receiver-quarterback combination, both he and Winston will have to get their timing down – especially with regards to the deep ball. Perriman expressed Thursday during his press conference his excitement to work overtime with Winston and begin that process as soon as possible. He’s eager to get on the same page with the Bucs’ fifth-year quarterback. Luckily, he’ll have a room full of wideouts to help him along the way, as well, including wide receiver Mike Evans, as he gets used to his new offense.
“It’s a big opportunity being here,” Perriman said. “Being able to play with Jameis and Mike is a huge opportunity that I think I’m ready to fill. I’m just ready to get started and get to work and meet my new teammates.”