When the Patriots signed Cam Newton, the analysts still had one complaint. If Tom Brady could not get production out of the receiving core, how will Cam Newton? I’ll start by saying I strongly believe that narrative is overblown. Edelman and Sanu were severely banged up down the stretch. N’Keal Harry was asked to perform after starting his rookie season on the Injured Reserve List. He missed important time which is why he was not able to get on the same page as Tom Brady. Jakobi Meyers is another player who will be entering his second year in the league and will continue to get better. A healthy Edelman and Sanu paired with two rising talents will make for a formidable group of weapons along with some of the veterans Belichick took a shot on. That said, adding Kelvin Benjamin could be the splash the Patriots need.
How Kelvin Benjamin Could Help the Patriots
Kelvin Benjamin is a physical freak that the Patriots could use to pair with Newton’s ability to throw deep balls with ease. The duo ended on bad terms but had some serious on-field chemistry at the beginning of Kelvin’s career. I think it is fair to say that McDaniels has already looked at some footage of Cam and Kelvin, with the intent of drawing up similar plays for N’Keal Harry. However, adding Kelvin Benjamin could be another toy for McDaniels to utilize and allow for some dominant goal-line packages.
Benjamin had some early success with Newton after being drafted in the first round for his physical prowess. He became a focal point of the offense from day one and was able to prove his worth at the NFL level. Unfortunately, Benjamin’s career took a downward trajectory after two solid seasons with the Panthers. Lets look at Kelvin Benjamin’s career with the Panthers.
- 2014: 16 G, 73 Rec, 1,008 Yards, 9 TDs
- 2015: Tore ACL in Training Camp
- 2016: 16 G, 63 Rec, 941 Yards, 7 TDs
- 2017: 8 G, 32 Rec, 475 Yards, 2 TDs
Why Kelvin Benjamin is Still Available
Benjamin is only 29-years-old and should have plenty of gas left in the tank. At 6’5″ 245 lbs, Benjamin is a man among boys even at the highest level of competition. The reason Benjamin is out of the league so young is because of his lack of work ethic. He has shown up to camp extremely out of shape and showed a lack of effort on and off the field. On top of that, he even blamed his lack of success after 2016 on his MVP quarterback, Cam Newton. Here is an exchange from 2018 when Benjamin was asked why his career was trending in the wrong direction.
Q: The last play of your college career, you caught a touchdown to win the national title for Florida State with 13 seconds left. Then you set rookie receiving records for Carolina. Things turned in 2015. How would you assess your career since your rookie season?
A: I mean, I felt like I would’ve been even more successful if … I don’t know, man … If I would’ve … Looking back on it, I should’ve just been drafted by somebody else. I should’ve never went to Carolina. Truly, I just think Carolina was bad for me. It was a bad fit from the get-go. If you would’ve put me with any other quarterback, let’s be real, you know what I’m saying? Any other accurate quarterback like Rodgers or Eli Manning or Big Ben — anybody! — quarterbacks with knowledge, that know how to place a ball and give you a better chance to catch the ball. It just felt like I wasn’t in that position.“Kelvin Benjamin Q&A: On staying confident, time in the slot, and a ‘bad fit from the get-go’ with the Panthers”
Historically, Newton has not been the most accurate quarterback, but this quote was absolutely insane. Not only is Newton an MVP, but he fed the ball to Benjamin, and his running capabilities prevented teams from double covering Benjamin. Also, if he wanted to be more successful, he should’ve tried actually playing hard and working on his abysmal route running.
Newton was not a fan of the remarks, especially after Newton defended Benjamin during all of his weight issues and often said how much respect he had for the young receiver. When Newton confronted Benjamin about the comments, he backed down with immense immaturity. He would not even shake Newton’s hand after disparaging his name.
Kelvin Benjamin hit the genetic lottery but has been a punk from day one. Instead of taking his gift in stride and working to become one of the greats, Benjamin let himself go and showed a lack of work ethic everywhere he went. He got three chances in the NFL and let them all pass him by. After asking for an “accurate” quarterback he was given Patrick Mahomes in the midst of an MVP season. He caught two passes for 26 yards in three games and has not played in the NFL since.
Should the Patriots Give Benjamin a Shot?
At 29-years-old, Benjamin should still be able to perform physically. The problem is that he is a headache that teams around the league are sick of dealing with. Belichick is known for taking gifted players with character issues and rebooting their career. I fully believe Newton would be willing to set their differences aside to give him another shot.
The Patriots could give him an incentive-based contract, similar to Newton’s to negate any risk of bringing Benjamin in. I would be fully supportive of the Patriots giving Kelvin Benjamin one chance to turn his career around, but I would not expect much from the receiver. One thing is clear, his potential is still extremely high, given he had a 1,000 yard season with Newton as a rookie while struggling in the route running game. The Patriots would find a way to get the most of Benjamin, as they are known to do.
So, should they sign Benjamin? His low risk/high reward status makes him intriguing. I certainly would not be upset if they made this move. However, someone that has made as many mistakes as Benjamin and shown a lack of passion for the game is hard to root for. I would not give Benjamin a dollar, but it would be a smart football move.
If you liked this article, you might want to see how the current Patriots wide receiver room looks. Click here to see a breakdown of all the Patriots receivers on roster, including rookies.