The Panthers have traded wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin to the Bills, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). The buzzer beating deal comes as one of the biggest trades of the week, and that’s saying a lot for what has been a historically eventful deadline. In return, the Panthers receive Buffalo’s third- and seventh-round picks in 2018, a league source tells Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer (Twitter link).
Benjamin’s name was not involved in rumors leading up to the NFL’s Halloween trade deadline. However, it was the old connection between executive Brandon Beane and Carolina that brought the deal together. The Bills traded away one of the game’s brightest talents in Sammy Watkins earlier this year, but they have replaced him with another big target.
The Bills are off to a 5-2 start with a very real chance of toppling the Patriots for the AFC East crown. The move to acquire Benjamin reads as a go-for-it deal, and Buffalo fans are happy to see that in the wake of the Marcell Dareus trade.
Benjamin, 26, was a first-round pick of the Panthers in 2014 when Beane was in the front office and Sean McDermott was on the sidelines. In that season, he caught 73 passes for 1,008 yards and nine scores. Unfortunately, the 2015 season was lost to injury and the football world is still waiting for Benjamin to replicate that season. The good news is that the health and conditioning problems that were plaguing the Florida State product appear to be behind him. In his half-season for Carolina this year, he has 32 grabs for 475 yards and two touchdowns.
The Panthers previously exercised the fifth-year option on Benjamin, meaning that the Bills will have him under contract through the 2018 season. His paltry $2.44MM cap number will increase to $8.46MM under the option, which is guaranteed for injury only.
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