The Buffalo Bills have been one of the great stories of this NFL season, as they are legitimate playoff contenders in the AFC with a 5-2 record. First-year head coach Sean McDermott has his team playing great defense, and they’ve been able to grind out victories despite not having big play threats for quarterback Tyrod Taylor to throw to. That changed today right before the NFL trade deadline, though. Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that the Carolina Panthers traded wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for Buffalo’s 2018 third and seventh-round draft picks. That gives Taylor quite the target outside the numbers, and he should help put more points on the board.
Kelvin Benjamin has shown flashes of taking the top off opposing defenses throughout his career with the Panthers. He could eventually fill the void in Buffalo’s offense left by Sammy Watkins, who was traded to the Los Angeles Rams before the regular season. The 6-foot-5 Benjamin is a perfect match with Taylor, who has not had that downfield threat this year to pair with a running game with LeSean McCoy. Benjamin has had 32 catches for 475 yards and two touchdowns, which is an upgrade compared to the other Bills wideouts.
Kevin Patra of NFL.com broke down how little the wide receivers have produced for Buffalo so far.
“Running back LeSean McCoy leads the Bills in receptions with 38, and tight end Charles Clay, who has missed the past two games, leads in yards with 258,” Patra noted.
This should enable Tyrod Taylor to have a jump-ball threat outside the numbers, and Jordan Matthews should have more room to operate in the middle of the field. Along with that, opposing safeties playing further back and out of the box at times should widen holes for McCoy, Mike Tolbert, and Taylor, who combine to make the Bills the eighth-best rushing attack in the league. It’s going to be crucial for Benjamin to stay healthy, however.
Joseph Person of The Charlotte Observer reported that Benjamin sustained an injury to his surgically repaired knee in a recent Carolina loss to the Chicago Bears. He missed the whole 2015 NFL season due to an ACL tear, and his health is a considerable risk for the Bills’ playoff hopes going forward, but the red zone touchdown payoff could be worth it.
In regards to the contract situation, Benjamin has a team-friendly salary of just over $500,000 through the 2017 season, according to Spotrac.com. This eventually could be a quality trade for both the Bills and Panthers, but Carolina will definitely miss Benjamin’s big target for quarterback Cam Newton in the short-term.
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