Travis Benjamin

2020 NFL Opt Out Tracker

Per an agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA, players with COVID-19 health concerns can opt out of the 2020 season. Initially, the deadline was believed to be Tuesday, August 4. Talks between the league and the union have pushed it to August 6.

Chiefs guard and medical school graduate Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was the first player to officially opt out. Scores of players followed.

Here’s the rundown, so far:

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • T Brad Seaton

Tennessee Titans

  • OL Anthony McKinney

Washington Football Team

Free agents

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49ers’ Travis Benjamin Opts Out

49ers wide receiver Travis Benjamin will opt out of the 2020 season. Benjamin joined the Niners on a one-year deal earlier this year, but he’ll have to wait until 2021 to make his SF debut.

[RELATED: 2020 NFL Opt Out Tracker]

First, I would like to thank the 49ers organization for their continued support,” Benjamin wrote in a statement. “After much consideration and discussion with my family I have decided to opt out of the 2020 NFL season as I feel this is the best decision for my family. I will continue to support my teammates and many friends around the league this season. As we continue to navigate this pandemic I wish that everyone stays safe.”

The defending NFC champs lost Emmanuel Sanders in free agency and picked up Benjamin to help soften the blow. Previously, Benjamin split his eight-year NFL career with the Browns and the Chargers. He missed most of the 2019 season and missed four games in 2018 – by the time he returns next year, he’ll have missed 31 games across three seasons.

The 49ers’ wide receiver group is led by Deebo Samuel, Kendrick Bourne, rookie Brandon Aiyuk, and slot receiver Trent Taylor. However, they’ll likely be without Samuel for a bit while he recovers from a foot fracture.

As of this writing, more than 55 players have opted out of the 2020 season, as shown in our tracker. Players have until 4pm ET/3pm CT today to make the call.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers, WR Travis Benjamin Agree To Deal

On a suddenly busy afternoon for auxiliary wide receiver deals, Travis Benjamin landed another job. The 49ers are signing the former Browns and Chargers receiver to a one-year deal, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

The defending NFC champions lost out on retaining Emmanuel Sanders, when he signed with the Saints. While Benjamin is not on Sanders’ level, he stands to potentially help as a depth piece. The 49ers were in the mix for Phillip Dorsett, but he opted for the Seahawks — literally seconds before the Benjamin agreement surfaced.

Benjamin, 30, entered free agency for a second time. The Chargers signed the deep threat/return man in 2016 but did not opt to bring him back on another deal. Benjamin missed most of the 2019 season and missed four games in 2018. Mike Williams‘ arrival minimized Benjamin’s role. Over the past two seasons combined, Benjamin did not total 300 receiving yards.

However, the former Browns fourth-round pick out of Miami posted north of 550 receiving yards in three straight seasons — from 2015-17 — and has four career punt-return touchdowns. Benjamin will attempt to make a 49ers team that features Deebo Samuel, Kendrick Bourne, slot receiver Trent Taylor and inconsistent 2018 second-rounder Dante Pettis.

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Chargers, Travis Benjamin To Part Ways

The Chargers and wide receiver Travis Benjamin are “mutually parting ways,” a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Benjamin will hit the open market in a couple of weeks and he apparently won’t be discussing a new deal with the Bolts. 

Benjamin joined the Chargers as a free agent in 2016 after talks with the incumbent Browns broke down. He landed a four-year, $24MM deal with $13MM guaranteed, a solid payout for a player who came out of nowhere to post 68 receptions, 966 yards, and five touchdowns in his platform year.

Since then, Benjamin’s production has been in decline. In Year One with the Chargers, he posted a 47/677/4 line. After the move to L.A., things cooled – 34/567/4 in 2017, 12/186/1 in 2018, and, thanks to injuries, he had just six grabs in five games last year.

Benjamin won’t be the only Chargers veteran leaving L.A. Quarterback Philip Rivers – an even more notable San Diego import – will be signing elsewhere in March.

At wide receiver, the Chargers will have some work to do – they don’t have a lot of proven talent on hand, outside of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams.

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Chargers Place Travis Benjamin On IR

Yet another key Charger will head to IR. The team placed Travis Benjamin on its injured list Thursday, due to a quadriceps injury. The Bolts signed defensive lineman T.Y. McGill to take Benjamin’s roster spot.

The Chargers and Benjamin agreed to an extension this year. The veteran wide receiver is now signed through the 2020 season. Despite the other injuries the Bolts have suffered at wideout, the 29-year-old Benjamin has only caught six passes for 30 yards in five games.

Benjamin joins Derwin James, Mike Pouncey, Adrian Phillips and Dontrelle Inman on Los Angeles’ IR list. Among the Bolts’ receiving corps, Inman, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams have battled injuries since training camp. The Bolts have also been without Russell Okung and Melvin Gordon for extensive stretches, though the former has returned to practice. All of these absences have obviously weakened the Chargers, whose four losses match their 2018 season-long total.

This is Benjamin’s fourth season as a Charger. His yardage total has decreased each year. That stands to continue, with the veteran now being unable to return until at least mid-December because of this transaction. A former UDFA, McGill played in four games for the 2018 Chargers. He has not played in 2019.

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Chargers To Extend Travis Benjamin

The Chargers and wide receiver Travis Benjamin have agreed to a one-year extension through 2020, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The new pact includes a $3MM signing bonus while lowering his 2019 base salary from $5.25MM to $1MM. 

The deal is mutually beneficial. The Chargers gain $2.75MM in salary cap relief while keeping Benjamin under contract for another season. Meanwhile, Benjamin gets a $3MM guarantee for the upcoming year, giving him some security as he enters a season with a non-guaranteed base salary.

Benjamin, 30 in December, was hardly used in 2018. He finished out with just 12 catches for 186 yards and one touchdown, a far cry from the 69/966/5 line he produced with the Browns in 2015. Statistically, he’s regressed in each of his three Chargers seasons, but things could change this year after the club lost Tyrell Williams to the rival Raiders in free agency.

Things could change after the draft and the later stages of free agency, but, for now, Benjamin is primed to serve as the Bolts’ No. 3 WR behind Keenan Allen and Mike Williams.

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AFC Notes: Colts, Texans, Pryor, Bolts

Anthony Castonzo will make his Colts debut on Thursday night. He’s active against the Patriots. The eighth-year left tackle has been sidelined for most of the past few months because of a hamstring injury, one he’s twice aggravated. Frank Reich said he did not intend to use an IR spot on Castonzo, and the first-year Colts coach’s confidence in the edge blocker being ready to return soon turned out to be appropriate. Castonzo participated in three limited practices this week.

Here’s the latest from the AFC, going into tonight’s intra-AFC matchup.

  • Indianapolis won’t, however, have the services of its top tackler. Darius Leonard, the NFL’s runaway tackles leader four games into his rookie season, will be out. The Colts tweeted the linebacker is not expected to dress against the Patriots. Both are technically active but are not going to play. An ankle injury is restricting Leonard, who has 54 tackles (seven for loss) and four sacks. He joins T.Y. Hilton, Marlon Mack and Kenny Moore among Colts who aren’t playing in Foxborough.
  • Seantrel Henderson‘s Texans stay did not produce much work. The one-year, $4MM free agent addition suffered a season-ending broken ankle in Week 1 against the Pats. The tackle who recently underwent surgery will be a UFA again in March but wants to return to the Texans. “Of course, I would like to be back,” Henderson said, via the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson. “I love it here.” Julie’n Davenport replaced Henderson at right tackle but was benched. Kendall Lamm‘s now playing there.
  • The AFC’s Los Angeles team has seen its wide receivers receive as much publicity as the Rams’ have, but the Chargers contingent’s quite deep in its own right. Although, it will be thinner for a bit going forward. Travis Benjamin is expected to be out for at least two weeks, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Benjamin’s been battling a foot injury this season. The Bolts hope he can return either for their Week 7 Titans game or after their Week 8 bye. L.A. still has Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Tyrell Williams, however.
  • Terrelle Pryor only played two snaps against the Jaguars. He’s not happy with his current Jets role. “It’s kind of nerve-racking. I don’t like it,” Pryor said, via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, about his usage dissatisfaction. “It is what it is, though. You get frustrated, you know? You don’t go out there and make plays. I’ve shown when the ball comes to me, I make plays. I’m a big play waiting to happen.” Noting Jermaine Kearse surpassed Pryor in Gang Green’s wideout pecking order, Mehta adds Pryor suffered a groin injury during practice last week. Pryor’s experienced persistent injury trouble during his Jets and Redskins tenures. He did not live up to expectations in Washington and saw ankle problems recur in New York this offseason. Pryor, however, is averaging 19.8 yards per catch (eight grabs for 158 yards) but has only received one target the past two weeks.

West Notes: 49ers, Cardinals, Chargers

After facing the Patriots on Sunday, the next daunting task for Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will be to fix the 49ers, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com writes. It won’t be easy, but plenty of people say he’s up for the task.

He’s an excellent player evaluator, and I think he can evaluate any position,” said Atlanta quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur, who has worked on Shanahan’s staff eight of the past nine years in three different cities. “He as a vision for what he wants, and he knows how to find those players to fit exactly what that vision is. He can recognize what players do well and put them in position to be successful. I think that’s one of his best attributes.”

Shanahan will be blocked from taking many of his assistant coaches with him to San Francisco, but Graziano says that a few of his current players could follow. Falcons backup quarterback Matt Schaub played for Shanahan in Houston and will be a free agent. Same goes for Falcons starting right guard Chris Chester, who played for him in Washington.

Here’s more out of the West divisions:

  • Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington “anticipates the team wanting him back,” a source tells Joe Pequeno of CBS5 (on Twitter). Furthermore, Washington expects to be reinstated in March. This item should be taken with a kosher grain of salt since Arizona’s level of interest is unknown. Washington’s own assessment of his reinstatement process also doesn’t mean a great deal. The former Pro Bowler hasn’t played since Week 17 of the 2013 season thanks to a substance abuse ban that has yet to be lifted.
  • Chargers wide receiver Travis Benjamin had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee last week, a source tells Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Benjamin was dealing with a grade-2 PCL sprain for several weeks last season. There’s no mention of Benjamin potentially missing an extended period of time, so he should be good to go this summer.
  • The Chargers officially terminated their lease with City of San Diego today, paying a $12.575MM termination fee in the process, Jason Cole of Bleacher Report tweets. It remains to be seen whether SD might redirect those funds towards an effort to lure the Raiders to town. As the Raiders’ planned move to Las Vegas hit some roadblocks this week, mayor Kevin Faulconer reached out to see if the Raiders might be willing to move ~500 miles south.

Contract Details: Harrison, Benjamin, Massie

Here are some of the latest details on recently agreed-upon or signed contracts from around the NFL. All Twitter links are courtesy of Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle unless otherwise indicated…

NFC:

  • Damon Harrison, DT (Giants): Five years, $46.25MM. $24MM guaranteed. $8MM signing bonus (Twitter link).
  • Bobby Massie, T (Bears): Three years, $18MM. $6.5MM guaranteed. $1.5MM signing bonus. $2MM roster bonus due on March 14 (Twitter links).
  • Thad Lewis, QB (49ers): One year, $760K. Minimum salary benefit. $25K playing-time incentive. $428K split salary (Twitter link).

AFC:

  • Travis Benjamin, WR (Chargers): Four years, $24MM. $13MM guaranteed. $5MM signing bonus. $2.75MM salary for 2016 and $4.25MM salary for 2017 fully guaranteed (Twitter link).
  • Antonio Gates, TE (Chargers): Two years, $11MM. $6MM guaranteed. $1MM signing bonus (Twitter link).
  • Ramon Humber, LB (Patriots): One year, $885K. Minimum salary benefit. $25K signing bonus. $30K in per-game roster bonuses (Twitter link via Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald).

Chargers Sign Travis Benjamin

3:55pm: The Chargers have officially announced the deal on the team’s website.

“We are very happy to add Travis Benjamin to our football team,” said general manager Tom Telesco. “We think he has the potential to help our offense and special teams in many different ways.”

2:57pm: It’s a four-year deal worth $24MM, per Rapoport (Twitter link). $13MM is guaranteed, and Benjamin will earn $18MM during the first three years.

7:25am: The Chargers are set to add a complement to Keenan Allen at wide receiver, according to Rand Getlin of the NFL Network, who reports (via Twitter) that Browns free agent Travis Benjamin intends to sign with San Diego when the new league year begins. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link) first reported that the Chargers had emerged as “the team to beat” for Benjamin.Travis Benjamin (vertical)

After catching just 41 passes in his first three seasons, Benjamin broke out in 2015, with 68 receptions, 966 yards, and five touchdowns. The multi-purpose weapon also continued to handle punt returns for the Browns, averaging 11.6 yards per return and returning one for a touchdown. While he may not be the sort of prototypical, big-bodied receiver that some teams may prefer, he looks like one of the top options in this year’s class of free agent wideouts.

The Texans displayed interest in Benjamin, but the bidding got too expensive for their liking, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, who tweets that the free agent wideout was seeking $6MM+ per year. The Falcons were also among the teams cited as suitors for Benjamin, whom the Browns had reportedly wanted to re-sign.

Despite the fact that Allen missed nearly half the season for the Chargers in 2015, no other wide receiver on the team came close to matching his 67 receptions. Steve Johnson ranked second among the club’s wideouts with 45 catches, so it makes sense that the team would have wanted to fortify the position this offseason.

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