The Baltimore Ravens used their first-round draft pick on wide receiver Breshad Perriman in 2015, knowing full well that they have had a generally poor track record of acquiring talent at the position through the draft. Since entering the league, he has played in 27 games, catching 43 passes for 576 yards and three touchdowns.
In large part because of the investment put into him, and the fact that he is naturally gifted, the Ravens picked up his roster bonus, committing roughly $650,000 to the fourth-year player for 2018, even though both the team and the player are aware that he is far from guaranteed to have a roster spot two months from now.
Baltimore looked to completely revamp their wide receiver position this offseason, parting with or releasing their top three targets from 2017 in Mike Wallace, Jeremy Maclin, and Michael Campanaro. They signed three players in free agency to take over those top three roles, headlined by Michael Crabtree and supplemented by John Brown and Willie Snead.
They also have third-year veterans Chris Moore and Vince Mayle and second year undrafted free agent Tim White, who impressed last August before suffering a season-ending injury. On top of that, they also used two draft picks in the middle rounds on the position.
So when all is said and done, it’s entirely reasonable that they could keep six wide receivers on their 53-man roster and still not include Berriman among them. He will absolutely have to earn his way onto the roster in his fourth season.
He called the prospect of not making the team “a scary topic” recently as their training camp has gotten underway, saying, “you know what’s on the line; you know that everything is on the line. It’s kind of like a make-or-break year, but at the same time, you can’t put that extra pressure on yourself. So I just really want to go out there and get better every day and control what you can control. Go out there and get better every day and go hard and everything will play out”.
Perriman is in the final year of his rookie contract after the team elected not to pick up his fifth-year option. With the roster bonus having now been paid, the Ravens already have about $1.7 million tied up in him for 2018, including the prorated portion of his signing bonus.
Should he make the roster, he would be scheduled to earn a base salary of just under $1 million. The most the Ravens could save by releasing him would only be about $500,000, assuming that any players making the minimum salary of $480,000 make the 53-man roster.