Kelvin Benjamin’s redemption arc has seemingly nosedived. With not even a full team training camp practice under his belt, the New York Giants are set to release the wide receiver-turned-tight end, according to team sources via ESPN.
The planned release comes shortly after an extremely odd scene unfolded on Wednesday afternoon at Quest Diagnostic Training Center. As players began to warm up on the field, the 30-year-old Benjamin was spotted engaging in a conversation with both general manager Dave Gettleman and head coach Joe Judge. The talk lasted approximately 10 minutes per Giants Wire. As the discussion wrapped up, Benjamin proceeded to leave the field, helmet in hand, as Gettleman trailed behind him, as captured by The Athletic’s Dan Duggan:
Update: Benjamin laid into Judge and the Giants in a phone interview with NJ Advance Media on Wednesday night. He called his time with the organization a “hoax” and revealed that the conversation on the field stemmed from the coach wanting to fine him for arriving at camp weighing 268 pounds — 17 pounds overweight.
Thus far the team and Judge have remained mum on the situation, choosing not to address the matter following practice.
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Benjamin’s Comeback Trail Goes Off Track
Benjamin, who has not appeared in an NFL game since 2018 as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs, was signed by the Giants after a tryout at rookie minicamp back in May. The organization’s decision to kick the tires on the big-bodied receiver didn’t come as much of a surprise, as the connection between the parties was quite glaring.
Gettleman, who once served in the same position with the Carolina Panthers, drafted the Florida State product with the No. 28 overall selection in the 2014 draft. Despite only two years of collegiate production, the GM was clearly giddy over the upside of his first-round pick.
“When I watched him [Benjamin], I thought I was watching a young Plaxico [Burress],” Gettleman said weeks after drafting the receiver, via NBC Sports. “He’s a better athlete than people realize, he plays faster than a lot people think and he made some ‘OMG’ catches in the rookie minicamp. He’s talented, he has good focus, he learns well and it’s important to him. It’s really important to him.”
The early returns on Benjamin were quite good, as he became only the 11th rookie receiver in league history to eclipse the 1,000-yard receiving mark. Unfortunately, his following campaign was wiped clean due to a torn ACL suffered in training camp. He returned to action in 2016, and while his production was admirable — 941 yards receiving — his inability to separate from defenders became even more apparent. By 2017, Gettleman and the Panthers gave up on Benjamin after just eight games, shipping him off to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for a third-round pick. His stint in Buffalo lasted a total of just 16 games before they had seen enough. Following his release, the Chiefs opted to take a flyer. However, his tenure in Kansas City ended after only three games.
Fallout From Benjamin’s Release
While the move may very well spell the end of Benjamin’s hopes of continuing his NFL career, from a Giants perspective it doesn’t do much of anything. Making the roster was always viewed as an uphill battle for the native Floridian, especially in his transition to a new position.
Despite Benjamin’s exit, Big Blue remains quite deep at tight end. Pro Bowler Evan Engram remains atop the depth chart. While the former first-round pick continues to serve as a lightning rod for criticism — plenty of which is warranted — he’s still a matchup mismatch and coming off a season where he ranked third in both receptions (63) and yards (654) among all NFC tight ends. Behind him, the team has free-agent signee Kyle Rudolph, as well as Kaden Smith and Levine Toilolo rounding out the group.
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