Kelvin Benjamin

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.”

Bills To Wait On Kelvin Benjamin Extension

Kelvin Benjamin is entering his contract year, but he won’t get a new contract right away. The Bills plan to wait a bit before getting into extension talks with the wide receiver, GM Brandon Beane tells WGR (Twitter link). 

Benjamin, 27, came to the Bills in a buzzer-beating trade deadline deal with the Panthers last year. Although Beane is plenty familiar with Benjamin thanks to their time together in Carolina, he wants to see how the wide receiver gels with offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and quarterbacks A.J. McCarron and Josh Allen before discussing a long-term pact.

For now, Benjamin remains under contract for 2018 for $8.45MM, per the terms of his fifth-year option. He figures to be the top receiving target in the offense as he is joined by second-year pro Zay Jones and veterans Andre Holmes and Jeremy Kerley on the WR depth chart.

In eight games for the Panthers last year, Benjamin totaled 32 grabs for 475 yards and two touchdowns, numbers that were roughly in line with his previous work. However, he had just 16 catches for 217 yards and one score in six contests for Buffalo.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Hopkins, Gordon, Bills, Lewis

Even with poor quarterback play for much of the year, Texans wideout DeAndre Hopkins has solidified his place in the top tier of NFL receivers. At 25 years old, Hopkins eclipsed the 1,300 yard marker and has managed double-digit touchdowns in a season for the second time in his career. But perhaps one of the most impressive things about Hopkins is that he’s never missed a game. The former first-round pick has played in 79 straight contests, but that streak is expected to end on Sunday, reports Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link).

Wilson notes that Hopkins is currently dealing with a calf injury and was forced to miss practice on Thursday afternoon. It’s not a good sign when a player misses practice late in the week and that is no exception even for a player like Texans number one wideout. Hopkins produced perhaps his best season yet in 2017 because of the offensive situation he had to deal with. It’ll be a shame if he doesn’t end up going on Sunday because of his ability to make insane catches at any time, like the one he pulled off against the Steelers in Week 16.

Here are more stories we’re following from the AFC as Week 17 approaches:

  • While Melvin Gordon‘s Week 17 status was more uncertain at the beginning of the week, it appears as if the talented running back is “optimistic” he’ll be able to go on Sunday, a source tells to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). The third-year back is dealing with an ankle sprain, but swelling is minimal, according to Rapoport. The Chargers would love to have Gordon available vs. the Raiders because their playoff hopes are still very much alive. The team does not have much depth behind their surefire number one back with Branden Oliver representing the only true backup on the depth chart. The Chargers have not signed an additional runner to the roster just yet, so it appears as if the team may think Gordon will be able to give to a go this weekend.
  • The Bills also face a must-win scenario in Week 17 in order to make the postseason. Two critical players in wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin and cornerback E.J. Gaines have been dealing with injuries throughout the week, but both look like they are trending in the right direction with gameday fast approaching, according to the team’s website. “He looks like he’s ready to go,” said head coach Sean McDermott of Gaines. The rookie head coach was hedging his bets a bit more regarding his number one wideout, stating that, “He practiced today and did some good things, we’ll get a better feel tomorrow.” In order to reach the playoffs, Buffalo needs to beat Miami on the road and get a Ravens loss, or have the Titans and Chargers both lose on Sunday afternoon.
  • Bengals longtime head coach Marvin Lewis is currently working through heavy speculation that he will be relieved of his duties come Monday morning. However, the coach told reporters yesterday that he has not discussed his current contract situation with owner Mike Brown, per Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Terrell passes along that the two do speak everyday. So if they do talk about his future with the team, they are not making it public at this time. The Bengals have fought through what will be the Bengals second straight losing season, and without any playoff wins to show in 15 years with the franchise, it appears likely the two sides will part ways at some point this offseason. Though it should be stated that Lewis has been able to stick around for this long even with an 0-7 playoff record to his name, so I guess anything is possible.

Kelvin Benjamin Has Torn Meniscus

Some confusion emerged about Kelvin Benjamin‘s status on Monday, but Sean McDermott belatedly confirmed a torn meniscus is sidelining his top wide receiver.

The first-year Bills coach first said Benjamin didn’t tear a meniscus but then clarified that is what the injury is, Mike Rodak of ESPN.com tweets. McDermott said he initially thought a question about a meniscus tear was regarding ligament damage, which the coach said has not occurred in Benjamin’s injured knee.

McDermott called Benjamin “day-to-day,” which seems slightly optimistic considering the injury happened eight days ago. This injury generally shelves players for weeks.

The Bills have not gotten much from their No. 1 pass-catcher after making a deadline-day deal to acquire him. Benjamin has missed two of the four games of his Bills tenure and has four catches as a Bill. Buffalo nonetheless beat the Chiefs in Kansas City on Sunday and remains in the thick of the AFC wild-card race.