Kelvin Benjamin

Giants To Cut Kelvin Benjamin

The Giants are done with Kelvin Benjamin. The wide receiver-turned-tight end will be released following a Wednesday blowup with team officials (Twitter link via NJ.com’s Steve Politi). 

Benjamin was seen jawing with head coach Joe Judge and GM Dave Gettleman before storming off of the practice field. Now, he’s off the team.

Benjamin joined up with the G-Men earlier this year in an effort to reboot his career at a new position. Gettleman drafted him in 2014 — as a receiver — but he hadn’t shown his first-round potential in years. At 6’5″ and 245 pounds, Benjamin has the bulk to play TE. However, he’ll have to try his hand somewhere else now.

In his first pro season, Benjamin had 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns. After missing 2015 with a torn ACL, he had 941 yards and seven touchdowns in 2016. He was traded to the Bills midway through the 2017 season, and his career went downhill quickly after that.

With Evan Engram and free agent acquisition Kyle Rudolph, the Giants don’t necessarily need Benjamin or the drama.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants Sign Kelvin Benjamin

Apparently, the Giants liked what they saw from Kelvin Benjamin. After bringing Benjamin in for a tryout this weekend, New York has agreed to terms with the former first-rounder, as Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com reports (via Twitter).

Benjamin, of course, entered the league as a wide receiver, and that’s where he has played since Giants GM Dave Gettleman — then the general manager of the Panthers — drafted him in 2014. But Benjamin primarily worked out as a tight end during this weekend’s visit, so it appears he is undergoing a position change.

Now 30, Benjamin’s size (6-5, 245 pounds) makes him something of a natural fit at TE. And given that his career fell off a cliff after he was traded from Carolina to the Bills midway through the 2017 season, he almost had to try something different. Indeed, after spending the final few games of the 2018 campaign with the Chiefs following his release from Buffalo, there were no public reports of interest in his services until he got a call from the Giants.

With Evan Engram and free agent acquisition Kyle Rudolph ahead of him on the depth chart, Benjamin will battle for a a TE3 job alongside the likes of Levine Toilolo and Kaden Smith. Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv believes Benjamin is facing an uphill battle in his quest for a regular season roster spot (Twitter link), but his background as a receiver and his physical stature make him an intriguing low-risk flier just the same.

Benjamin is the second of the five veterans Big Blue recently invited to the facility to get a contract. RB Corey Clement has also put pen to paper, and as Dan Duggan of The Athletic tweets, the Giants waived RB Jordan Chunn and TE Nate Wieting to make room for Clement and Benjamin on the 90-man roster.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Kelvin Benjamin Works Out For Giants

FRIDAY: Benjamin is working out as a tight end, Raanan tweets. Once referred to on Monday Night Football as being a Popeyes biscuit away from being a tight end, Benjamin — at 6-foot-5, 245 pounds — was one of the biggest wide receivers in NFL history. Rather than attempt to join a crowded Giants receiving corps, the former first-round pick will opt to try his hand at tight end. The Giants have Evan Engram going into his contract year, and they signed Kyle Rudolph earlier this offseason.

THURSDAY: The Giants are going to be having a surprising familiar name tryout this weekend. New York will host veteran Kelvin Benjamin alongside some young guys, a source told Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

While this news certainly wasn’t expected since Benjamin hasn’t played in a game since 2018, it’s also not totally out of left field. Giants GM Dave Gettleman drafted Benjamin when he was with the Panthers, so there’s at least a connection here. Benjamin was drafted by Carolina 28th overall back in 2014, and he put up big numbers with Cam Newton as a rookie.

In his first pro season, Benjamin had 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns. After missing 2015 with a torn ACL, he had 941 yards and seven touchdowns in 2016. He was traded to the Bills midway through the 2017 season, and his career went downhill quickly after that.

Buffalo cut him toward the end of the 2018 campaign, he latched on with the Chiefs for the final few games, and hasn’t signed anywhere since. Not only that, but we haven’t even heard of any known interest in him since then.

The Giants have a crowded receiving depth chart after drafting Kadarius Toney in the first-round, so Benjamin should be considered a long-shot to make the team. That being said, it’d be a fun story if this does lead to a contract.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs To Sign WR Kelvin Benjamin

The Chiefs have agreed to sign free agent wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter links). Benjamin’s deal will run through the end of the 2018 season.

Kansas City had been on the lookout for wide receiver depth as Sammy Watkins continues to battle a foot injury. Watkins played only a handful of snaps in the Chiefs’ Week 11 loss to the Rams, and — even following a bye in Week 12 — was still unable to play in Week 13. He’s put in limited practice sessions so far this week, but Kansas City needed reinforcements behind Tyreek Hill, where the Chiefs are light on options outside out of Chris Conley.

Benjamin, 27, went unclaimed on waivers after the Bills cut him earlier this week, but that was hardly surprising given his contract. As a former first-round pick, Benjamin was locked into a guaranteed base salary that didn’t necessarily reflect his current market value. Any team that claimed him would have been responsible for the remainder of that salary, which would have come out to roughly $2MM. Now, the Chiefs are likely signing Benjamin at the league minimum rate, while the Bills — provided typical NFL contract language was used — will receive a small cap credit in 2019 thanks to offset language.

Even factoring in his draft pedigree, Benjamin doesn’t offer much in the way of upside and has historically had problems with his conditioning. Additionally, nearly every wide receiver metric has Benjamin near the bottom of the list. Among wideouts with at least 50 targets this season, Benjamin ranks dead last in catch rate (his 37.1% rate is more than eight percent greater than the next-worse pass-catcher). He’s 61st among 66 qualifiers in Football Outsiders’ DYAR, which measures value over a replacement level player, and 64th in DVOA, which measures value on a per-play basis.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs To Meet With Kelvin Benjamin

Kelvin Benjamin will visit with the Chiefs on Thursday, a source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Benjamin was released by the Bills earlier this week and went unclaimed on waivers, making him a free agent. 

Benjamin could help to fill in for wide receiver Sammy Watkins if his foot trouble continues. He may also help to replace some of the offensive firepower the Chiefs lost by releasing running back Kareem Hunt. Backup Spencer Ware averaged just 3.36 yards per carry against the Raiders on Sunday, a sign that the Chiefs may have to rely even more on the pass going forward.

Benjamin, 27, had just 23 catches for 354 yards and one touchdown in 12 games for Buffalo this season, but he was a monster in his early days with the Panthers. His conditioning has been an issue in the past, but Benjamin will have tons of motivation as he looks to boost his stock before free agency in March.

If signed, Benjamin will have the opportunity to play in the fourth postseason game of his career. He didn’t do much in the Bills’ postseason appearance last year against the Jaguars, but he did score two touchdowns in the Panthers’ second round loss to the Seahawks following the 2014 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Kelvin Benjamin Goes Unclaimed On Waivers

Former Bills wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin went unclaimed on waivers, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). He’s now a full-fledged free agent, but Schefter doesn’t expect him to last on the open market for long. 

[RELATED: Bills Waive WR Kelvin Benjamin]

Benjamin’s Tuesday release came as a surprise, but it’s not a shock that the league’s 31 other teams declined to pick up his contract off waivers. Any team claiming Benjamin would have been responsible for the remaining prorated portion of his base salary, which comes out to a little under $2MM. Instead, a contender will likely swoop in and grab Benjamin for a lesser sum.

The Broncos could be a logical destination for Benjamin following Emmanuel Sandersseason-ending Achilles injury, but they could also stand pat after plucking Benjamin’s ex-teammate Andre Holmes off waivers. The Chiefs could also explore Benjamin after dumping Kareem Hunt, one of their best offensive weapons.

Benjamin, 27, has just 23 catches for 354 yards and one touchdown in 12 games for Buffalo this season, numbers that are a far cry from his best seasons with the Panthers. Still, a change of scenery may help Benjamin, and teams are curious about what he can bring to the table.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bills Release WR Kelvin Benjamin

The Bills released wide receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Andre Holmes, according to a team press release. The release of Benjamin is particularly shocking given his resume. 

Benjamin came to the Bills in a blockbuster trade deadline deal last year. Since then, Benjamin has logged just 40 catches in 19 games, including the team’s low-scoring playoff loss to the Jaguars.

Because this year’s trade deadline is in the rear view mirror, both Benjamin and Holmes will be subject to waivers, even though they are both vested veterans. Benjamin is likely to find a new home whether he’s claimed or not, and that will mark his third team in 13 months.

Any team claiming Benjamin off waivers would be responsible for the remaining prorated portion of his base salary, which comes out to a little under $2MM. It’s a high price to pay, but Benjamin could make for an interesting rental since he is due for unrestricted free agency in March. Of course, if he is not claimed, the Bills will be on the hook for that cash.

There was no weird behind the scenes incident to prompt the release of either player, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. Rather, the Bills simply wanted to get younger and audition players who factor into their plans for 2019 and beyond.

Benjamin, 27, has just 23 catches for 354 yards and one touchdown in 12 games this season, numbers that are a far cry from his best seasons with the Panthers. His conditioning has been questioned by many, his route running errors been glaring, and he no longer appears to be on the path to superstardom. A change of scenery may help Benjamin, but he’ll have to really explode down the stretch in order to position himself for a lucrative free agent deal.

Holmes, 30, was barely involved in the offense for Buffalo. In his 12 games, Holmes had just 12 grabs for 157 yards and zero scores.

In related moves, the Bills also promoted defensive end Mike Love and cornerback Denzel Rice to the 53-man roster from the practice squad.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Trade Rumors: Raiders, Cooper, Cowboys, Broncos

The trade deadline is just nine days away, and earlier this morning, we learned that the Saints and Eagles could be two of the most aggressive teams as they seek to bolster their rosters for a potential championship run. Here are a few more notes from the trade market:

  • Per Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link), many Raiders players believe that head coach Jon Gruden is simply not happy with his collection of talent, and that there will be major roster turnover within the next several years. In fact, those players feel it will take up to two years for Gruden to assemble the type of roster he wants, and while rival GMs are not sure they can swing a deal with Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie alone, they believe they can make headway with Gruden. The Raiders are clearly in a state of upheaval right now, and the sense is that everyone on the team is available for the right price.
  • Raiders receiver Amari Cooper is clearly available via trade, and Rapoport says that the team has had the most significant discussions about Cooper with NFC East clubs, including the Cowboys. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com confirms that Dallas is doing its due diligence on Cooper, and Albert Breer of TheMMQB thinks there would be teams willing to part with a second-round choice for him, though it does not seem likely that Oakland will get the first-rounder it is reportedly seeking. Breer reports that the team wants a third-round pick in exchange for safety Karl Joseph.
  • In addition to Cooper, the Cowboys are monitoring Dolphins WR DeVante Parker and Bills WR Kelvin Benjamin, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN.com (via Twitter). The Eagles have also spoken to Miami about Parker, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald (via Twitter).
  • Teams are very much interested in Broncos receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders and corners Bradley Roby and Chris Harris, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. Schefter writes that Denver is willing to part with Thomas, but not Sanders.
  • The Jaguars are not mulling a trade for a quarterback to challenge incumbent Blake Bortles, per Schefter. Despite another mediocre season from Bortles, the Jags “believe that the quarterback position is the least of their issues.”

AFC East Notes: McCoy, Bills, Wake, Pats

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says the odds of the Bills trading any veterans — like RB LeSean McCoy, whose name has recently surfaced in trade rumors — are very slim. La Canfora writes that it would take a “bounty” to pry McCoy or Jerry Hughes away from Buffalo, as the team considers both players, who are both signed beyond this season to club-friendly deals, to be vital veteran components of its rebuild. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com agrees, saying it could take as much as a second-round draft pick to land McCoy.

Now let’s round up a few more notes from the AFC East, starting with more from Orchard Park:

  • This doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but Rapoport tweets that the Bills have no intention of playing newly-acquired signal-caller Derek Anderson, barring injury. Anderson is with the club to tutor rookie QB Josh Allen, not to take any of his playing time.
  • From the “something to keep an eye on” department, Jenna Cottrell of 13 WHAM tweets that Allen asked wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin if he wanted to work on routes during pregame warm-ups today, and Benjamin told him no. The Bills acquired Benjamin at the trade deadline last year but have not gotten much production out of him, and he does not appear especially motivated to perform well in his platform year.
  • Dolphins DE Cameron Wake recently underwent arthroscopic knee surgery but could be back as soon as next week, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. Normally such a procedure would require a four-week recovery period, but Wake is such a quick healer that he may make it back in a fraction of that time.
  • Mike Reiss of ESPN.com observes that Patriots cornerback Jason McCourty is on pace to recoup the money that he lost when he agreed to a pay cut before the regular season. New England gave him the opportunity to make up the difference via incentives, and McCourty is well on his way to hitting those incentives. The same cannot be said for Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, however.
  • Reiss also notes that Kenjon Barner, who has been shuttled on and off of the Patriots‘ roster several times since September 12, may have a little more job security right now. Barner’s former club, the Eagles, are very much in need of RB help, and the Pats know that if they cut Barner again, they may not get him back.
  • Darryl Slater of NJ.com tweets that Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers, who is dealing with a serious illness, is on the sidelines for the team’s game against the Colts today. It does not sound as if he has resumed his coordinator responsibilities yet, but it is a good sign nonetheless.

Bills Notes: Lawson, McCarron, Peterman, Benjamin

Although Bills defensive end Shaq Lawson has said “all the right things to the media” this offseason, including saying recently that he knows he’s on the trading block and has to get better, he apparently still isn’t in good standing with the team, according to Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News. Carucci writes that he’s “not buying” Lawson’s supposed turnaround and says that “parting ways with Lawson makes perfect sense” as “he’s not remotely close to being a good fit on Sean McDermott‘s team.”

Lawson, a first round pick in 2016, could find himself out of a roster spot after just two seasons. While Carucci thinks the Bills will try and trade Lawson, he doesn’t think they’ll get much for him, writing the “rest of the NFL recognizes that Lawson is on borrowed time and will likely offer little or simply wait for him to be released.”

Here’s more from Buffalo:

  • While Carucci thinks “Nathan Peterman looked good” during OTAs and minicamp, he doesn’t “fully buy the narrative that he’s soared to the top of the depth chart and is the front-runner to start.” Despite the offseason hype that Peterman has received, Carucci still thinks A.J. McCarron is the favorite to start.
  • Wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin could be “setting himself up for a big contract” if he plays well in the final year of his deal, according to Joe Buscaglia of ABC 7 Buffalo. Buscaglia thinks the Bills will want to lock up Benjamin longterm if he can stay healthy, but writes that the team won’t “commit to him until he shows well, if he develops strong chemistry with [Josh] Allen, or a fair bit of both.”
  • Carucci thinks the Bills will look to add a pass-catcher during training camp. The Bills are a bit thin at receiver and Carucci thinks GM Brandon Beane will be aggressive, saying he thinks he will “as he did last August, look to add a receiver or two.”