Kelvin Benjamin has some hard feelings about his time with the Carolina Panthers and Cam Newton.
The Carolina Panthers shocked the NFL by trading former first round pick Kelvin Benjamin on last year’s trade deadline. The Panthers wanted to get faster at the wide receiver position and felt Devin Funchess and Benjamin were too similar as vertical threats. Carolina, 5-3 with Benjamin, went 6-2 without him. Benjamin landed in Buffalo and helped the Bills to their first playoffs appearance since 1999.
Sometimes, two good people just don’t work in a relationship. And they need to split in order to find happiness. That appeared to be the case between Carolina and Benjamin.
But Benjamin isn’t quite ready to let go of the past.
Speaking to The Athletic’s Tim Graham, Benjamin said, “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.
“In Carolina, all they wanted me to do was line up at the X and take guys away from the play.”
Benjamin amassed 1008 receiving yards and nine touchdowns in his rookie season with Cam Newton throwing him the ball. But he felt those numbers would have been better if a more accurate quarterback was pitching.
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 [Aaron] Rodgers or Eli Manning or Big Ben [Roethlisberger] — 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.
The Carolina quarterback as often been criticized for his lack of accuracy. He’s never had a completion percentage above 62 percent. However, some of his accuracy issues can be laid on Benjamin. Newton had a terrible habit of trying to force the ball to Benjamin during their time together, leading to incompletions.
That’s a bold statement by Benjamin, proclaiming he’d be better with three of the greatest quarterbacks of all time throwing him the ball.
The Florida State alum still feels as if he’s the best receiver out of the 2014 draft that includes Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandin Cooks.
They were just put in better opportunities to have success. If you notice, at the end of the day, my rookie year I was the only one to get to the playoffs. Nobody else went to the playoffs. I’m the only one that helped my team go to the playoffs.
The receivers mentioned were all drafted ahead of him, which means they went to worse teams, despite their respective quarterback situations.
The Panthers were 12-4 the year before they drafted Benjamin and 7-8-1 in his rookie season, sneaking into the playoffs thanks to a weak year in the NFC South. Benjamin missed the entire 2015 season with a torn ACL. Carolina went 15-1 and made the Super Bowl that year. Carolina went 13-18-1 during his two full seasons with the team.
To recap: Any success he had in Carolina was due to him overcoming the odds and making Newton, the 2015 NFL MVP, look like the greatest quarterback of all-time. And any failure he had in Carolina was due to Newton and the coaching staff not getting him the ball or utilizing him correctly.
Benjamin will surely be much happier with Josh Allen or A.J. McCarron or Nathan Peterman throwing him the ball this season. And Panthers fans will certainly be much happier not having to watch Benjamin fail to get separation despite his massive size advantage.