Travis Benjamin Needs to be on the Buccaneers’ Radar
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had just one wide receiver with more than 33 catches on the year. In 15 starts with the Cleveland Browns in 2015, unrestricted free-agent Travis Benjamin had 68, and would be a breath of fresh air for one of his home state teams.
Jameis Winston threw for more than 4,000 yards. More than 25% of those yards were in the hands of second year standout Mike Evans. When you consider the Buccaneers’ second leading receiver was their back-up running back, and the third a 33-year old who played just 10 games, it’s amazing Winston threw for 3,000 yards, much less 4,000.
The Buccaneers need help at receiver, and they need it now. Vincent Jackson isn’t getting younger, and expected third receiver Louis Murphy is going to be entering 2016 off of a serious injury; who knows what the team will get from these two players? Rookie Kenny Bell lost his entire season before it started, and the rest of the receiving corps is untested and unproven.
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With the Cleveland Browns missing star wideout Josh Gordon to yet another suspension, the team needed someone to step up. Benjamin, the fifth year player from Miami(FL) did just that, and more than tripled his previous year’s production.
In his first season as a starter in Cleveland, Benjamin showed his ability to make plays in floundering offense which featured a tight end as it’s main receiver. He had 100-yards receiving or more in three games, including in Week 6 against the Super Bowl bound Denver Broncos defense. Showing consistency, Benjamin had at least three catches in all but two games in 2015, turning in a season high nine catches against those same Broncos.
What the Buccaneers need even more than catches and yards, is the ability to blow the lid off of a defense. Benjamin had catches of 40 or more yards in five games last season, without the benefit of a Pro Bowl caliber receiver on the field with him.
Beyond the receiver help Benjamin would bring in, he’s a proven return man as well. In his five-year career, Benjamin has a 25 yard kickoff return average and has returned three punts for touchdowns. Those may not be Devin Hester numbers, but they’re better than what the Buccaneers have had for a while.
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The talk of the offseason has been defense for the Buccaneers, who finished in the bottom half of the NFL in just about every defensive category there is. While the team is in definite need of a defensive upgrade in many areas, the Buccaneers have a real need in the receiver department, and enough cap space to make a run at a receiver like Benjamin.
Such an effort would see big dividends for both Benjamin and the Buccaneers, should the Florida native return home.