Benjamin: “I didn’t want to be there no more. I just felt like they weren’t featuring me more. I mean, I was their No. 1 but I wasn’t getting my No. 1 targets, you know."— Mark Ludwiczak (@marklud12) June 14, 2018
Kelvin Benjamin claimed yesterday he wanted out of Carolina because he wasn't getting the looks deserved by a #1 receiver. Benjamin, who was selected #28 overall in the 2014 NFL Draft, was part of an impressive class of wide receivers like Mike Evans and Odell Beckham, Jr who burst onto the scene. Benjamin tore his ACL in a non-contact drill to start training camp following a rookie season where he had put up 1008 receiving yards.
Carolina went on to field the leagues most explosive and high-scoring offense without him in their run to the Super Bowl. Benjamin returned in 2016 with the expectation that having the big fellow, who had abused smaller corners his rookie year, would help Carolina continue the momentum from the season before. The Panthers struggled offensively, and while Benjamin almost notched his second 1000 yd receiving year, the stats were misleading. Cam forced the ball a lot to Benjamin, greatly symbolizing a team that just struggled to find good balance.
As Carolina tried to put 2016 in the rear-view, Kelvin Benjamin strolled into the 2017 training camp nearly 30 lbs overweight, weighing reportedly upwards of 270 lbs. Benjamin starting doing hot yoga and shed some of that weight, but he looked slow and stiff throughout the season. He was out there playing, but he wasn't making the impact he had in his rookie year. Something was just off, and when Carolina announced that they were trading Benjamin to the Buffalo Bills on Halloween, little children all over Buffalo frantically hid their trick or treat candy. Carolina's offense improved without the burden of trying to crack the code of having slow Benjamin and Devin Funchess on the field at the same time and Buffalo got some talent on a roster desperate for a solution at wide receiver.
Benjamin finally addressed his sudden exit from Carolina, claiming that he wanted out. He suggested that he didn't feel he was getting the attention and respect a true #1 receiver should get. How unhappy Benjamin was with his situation is hard to tell from the few lines in this tweet, but it is clear he wasn't fitting well in Carolina. The Panthers offense had success in 2015 without him and started heading in a better direction without him after moving him from Buffalo.
Buffalo has been clear to this point that they aren't ready to start negotiating with Benjamin who is in the final year of his rookie contract. With the Bills picking up Benjamin's fifth year option, he won't be cheap this season. I'm certain Brandon Beane doesn't like hearing Benjamin talk about these #1 targets just before he starts asking for #1 money.
By Tony Dunn
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