As the Jets get closer to training camp, I am examining the roster and giving you my top 25 players. Each weekday, we will reveal another person on the list, leading right into camp. I am not including rookies on this list because I do not feel it is possible to fully evaluate them before they play a game.
No. 23: La’Mical Perine
Last year’s ranking: Unranked (rookie)
Age on Opening Day: 23
How acquired: Selected in the fourth round of the 2020 Draft
Years left on contract: 3
2021 Salary Cap figure: $966,336
Looking back at 2020
There were lofty expectations for Perine as a rookie after he flashed some breakaway ability in training camp. Those flashes did not translate into much during the regular season, though.
Perine missed Week 1 with an ankle injury and he ended up playing in 10 games. He did not make any starts. He had 64 rushes for 232 yards and two touchdowns, as well as 11 receptions for 63 yards. Perine’s best game of the season came against the Bills in October when he had 40 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.
Perine seemed to be gaining a bigger role with the Jets after they moved on from Le’Veon Bell and realized that Frank Gore was mainly a progress stopper after the season was lost. Then, Perine suffered a high-ankle sprain in November and went to injured reserve for four games. He returned in December, but again was sidelined in Week 17 when he went on the COVID-19 list.
Outlook for 2021
The Jets do not have a dominant running back that is the clearcut workhorse for the team. That gives Perine an opening. He is going to have to take advantage of his carries in training camp and particularly the preseason games to earn the trust of the new coaching staff.
That staff already knows Tevin Coleman from the 49ers and just drafted Michael Carter. That could leave Perine fighting for carries. Coach Robert Saleh recently referred to Perine as a big back capable of getting downhill in a hurry. That may mean the Jets are thinking of Perine as a short-yardage option. Perine will be one of the Jets with the most to prove when training camp arrives.