McDermott: Bills 'took a swing' on Benjamin, but 'it obviously didn't work'

December 05, 2018 - 1:03 pm

After spending to draft choices to acquire wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin at last year’s trade deadline, the Buffalo Bills decided they had seen enough and released him on Tuesday.

“It obviously didn’t work, and those are hard decisions to make because those are human decisions,” head coach Sean McDermott told the media on Wednesday.  

The Bills sent third and seventh round draft choices to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for the former first round pick. However, after a tumultuous second season in Buffalo that had many fans and media questioning his effort and conditioning, the team decided it was best to part ways. Benjamin was released along with veteran wideout Andre Holmes.

“The important thing for us is that we continue to take swings, and that’s what we did,” McDermott said of the trade. “We stepped up to the plate and you take a swing and some of those are going to work and some aren’t, but the only way you’re going to get a hit is if you take a swing.

“But just as important for us is, I believe, is when things are no longer right for us as our football team and where we are and the vision we are trying to chase that we move forward, and that’s what we did. We’re going to continue to make every decision we feel is right, in the best interest of this football team.”

Benjamin finished his 2018 season in Buffalo with 23 catches for 354 yards and one touchdown. He didn’t make nearly the impact the organization had hoped for when they traded for him last October.

Signs were already starting to show that the team was planning on moving on from Benjamin, whether before the end of the season or when his contract expired in March and he became a free agent. Until last week when they spiked again, his snap counts decreased each of the previous three contests, and other younger wide receivers were being used instead. So the Bills chose to do it sooner rather than later, and continue to get a look at other options.

Rookie receiver Robert Foster was signed from the practice squad and second-year wideout and return man Isaiah McKenzie was claimed off waivers from the Denver Broncos. Veteran Deonte Thompson was signed a couple weeks ago, as well.

“We’ve got young receivers that have stepped up over the last couple weeks and have showed signs of their potential, and flashed,” McDermott added. “So our commitment to them is to give them more opportunities, and to see them build a relationship with Josh [Allen], to see them continue to develop. And that’s important as we move forward that we understand, as we close out this season one game at a time, wherever that takes us, that we understand what our young players are. Who they are. Can they develop? Are they important pieces for us as we move forward as an organization?"

McDermott declined to get into specifics on why it didn't work out between the team and Benjamin, only saying, "at the end of the day it didn't work for us. We appreciate the effort he gave us, and the same thing with Andre. We're going to move forward and develop these young players. They've earned that right to be given more opportunities."


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