Former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin opens up about being traded last season…
Three minutes prior to the trade deadline last year the Carolina Panthers made a surprising deal with the Buffalo Bills to gain two additional NFL Draft picks. In exchange, former first-round pick, wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who was leading the team in receiving yards before being dealt would be leaving.
New general manager Marty Hurney pulled the trigger, opting for more speed than size on the field and initially fans were in shock. Benjamin appeared to have rebounded from an ACL injury which sidelined him during the 2015 season, but was back making plays – although he wasn’t finding the end zone.
Benjamin had nine touchdowns as a rookie and over 1,000 yards receiving but following the injury, he accumulated only seven scores and fell below his rookie mark in yards during a 2016 return. Halfway through last year his woes appeared to continue, finding the end zone just twice and having his targets fall behind both fellow receiver Devin Funchess and rookie running back Christian McCaffrey.
It appears the latter, despite his team leading yards total, was a point of controversy for Benjamin through recent comments to the Daily Messenger.
"“I didn’t want to be there no more, nah, I just felt like they weren’t featuring me more. I was their No. 1, but I wasn’t getting my No. 1 targets.”"
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Benjamin trailed Funchess and McCaffrey by seven and 15 targets, respectively, but didn’t fare much better in Buffalo – at least initially. In six games with the Bills, Benjamin got only 27 targets, made just 16 catches and scored once.
The Panthers however appeared to revitalize their offense. After starting 5-3, Carolina won four straight following Benjamin’s exit and six of their last eight to make the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons.
Hurney continues to restructure the Panthers receiving corps with the additions of veteran Torrey Smith via another trade and selecting D.J. Moore first in the NFL Draft. A healthy Curtis Samuel, improving Funchess and speedy Damiere Byrd should provide quarterback Cam Newton and new offensive coordinator Norv Turner plenty to work with.
Benjamin didn’t see himself as a long-term answer for the Panthers, wanted out and Carolina made the move.