The Las Vegas Raiders are in the market for wide receiver help and the recently released Travis Benjamin could be a target.
After four years in San Diego and Los Angeles, wide receiver Travis Benjamin agreed with the Chargers to mutually terminate his contract. According to NFL.com, Benjamin and the Chargers agreed to restructure his deal last season that game the team an option to void his deal and also reduce his salary for the 2019 season.
Benjamin was a dynamic playmaker for the Browns and was a proper deep threat during his time in Cleveland. 2015 was a career year as he reeled in 68 catches for 966 yards and 5 touchdowns in his first full season as a starter. He had a special connection with QB Johnny Manziel who was responsible for 3 of Benjamin’s 5 touchdowns, all of which were 50+ yard receptions.
He was a dynamic return man for the Browns as well and scored 3 touchdowns over four years on punt returns.
This performance earned him a 4-year, $24 million contract from the Chargers and the early returns were solid value for the money. In his first two years with in Southern California, Benjamin never matched his receptions or yards high in Cleveland but nearly matched his scoring total with 4 touchdowns in 2016 and 2017.
He was a quintessential deep threat for Philip Rivers and paired well with Keenan Allen and current Las Vegas Raider Tyrell Williams. Unfortunately for the Chargers his play fell off a cliff in 2018 and he managed only 12 catches for 186 yards in 12 games.
If 2018 was bad then 2019 was abysmal as Benjamin recorded 6 catches for 30 yards before being placed on injured reserve after five weeks.
At his best Benjamin used his 4.31 speed to take the top off defenses and was a constant threat to break open a game with a big play on offense or special teams. It seems however that he is past his best and that he would be hard-pressed to match the production he had in in Cleveland or his first two years with the Chargers.
Benjamin’s 4.3 speed may be rare but if the Raiders are looking for someone who can run fast in a straight line they have a number of options. WR/CB Rico Gafford is still on the roster and ran a 4.22 during his pro day. Gafford has played sparingly for the Raiders but flashed against the Titans in 2019 with a 49-yard touchdown. If the Raiders opt to get a speedster in the NFL Draft then there are 21 receivers who ran a 4.50 or better at the combine.
If this was 2016 then the Raiders would be hard-pressed to find a deep threat better than Benjamin at his salary of around $5 million but we are well past that, just like the former Miami Hurricane is past his prime. Benjamin may be better suited for the XFL at this point in his career but he could end up on another team at a cut price deal as a return man if he is looking to extend his NFL career.