Benjamin and the Chargers have agreed to a one-year extension through 2020, with the wideout receiving a signing bonus in exchange for reducing his 2019 base salary, Field Yates of ESPN reports. Coming off a 2018 campaign with just 12 receptions, seven carries and five punt returns in 12 games, Benjamin was scheduled for a non-guaranteed $5.25 million base salary and a $6.5 million cap hit in 2019. The new deal secures his roster spot for the upcoming season, and the departure of Tyrell Williams (Raiders) leaves Benjamin as the favorite for the No. 3 job at wide receiver. There is some potential for Dylan Cantrell, Geremy Davis or Artavis Scott to make it a competition, but Benjamin has a massive advantage in experience. The 29-year-old is less likely to have a major role on special teams, as Chargers cornerback Desmond King was one of the league's top return men last season.
Coach Anthony Lynn said Benjamin, Dylan Cantrell and Geremy Davis need to step up after the Chargers lost Tyrell Williams to the Raiders this offseason, Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com reports. With Chargers cornerback Desmond King emerging as one of the top return men in the league, Benjamin needs to lock down the No. 3 spot at wide receiver to have any shot at justifying his non-guaranteed $5.25 million base salary in the final season of a four-year, $24 million contract. The 29-year-old still seems to be a part of the team's plan at this stage of the offseason, but his spot on the 53-man roster won't be safe unless he agrees to a pay cut. Benjamin averaged 23.2 offensive snaps in 12 games during the 2018 season, catching 12 passes for 186 yards and a touchdown while adding seven carries for 41 yards. The Chargers may eventually release him if Cantrell, Davis or another young player appears ready for the No. 3 WR job.
Benjamin failed to corral either of his targets Sunday in the Chargers' 41-28 divisional-round loss to the Patriots. Even with a 35-7 halftime deficit forcing the Chargers into catch-up mode early, Benjamin still couldn't carve out a sizable role in the passing attack behind fellow wideouts Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams and Mike Williams. Benjamin only played 21 of the Chargers' 71 offensive snaps during the contest, marking the fourth straight game in which he's been below 25 snaps. Benjamin is under contract for 2019, but it wouldn't be surprising if the Chargers parted ways with him this offseason in light of his minimal role on offense along with the emergence of Desmond King as the team's top return man.
Benjamin caught all three of his targets for 11 yards in the 23-17 wild-card win over the Ravens on Sunday. The Chargers opted to use Austin Ekeler as their primary jet sweep option, utilizing Benjamin more as a running decoy than anything else. There's a possibility Benjamin could see more than his 16 offensive snaps next week in an effort to implement more lateral movement against a suspect Patriots defense, but he still ranks far below the likes of Melvin Gordon, Keenan Allen, Antonio Gates and Mike Williams when it comes to potential receiving options.
Benjamin finished the season with 12 receptions for 186 yards and a touchdown across 12 games. He also carried the ball seven times for 41 yards. In only six of his 12 outings did Benjamin play more than 20 offensive snaps, as the Chargers essentially deployed him primarily as a downfield decoy throughout the campaign. Injuries also limited Benjamin's role on special teams, with Desmond King emerging as the primary returner instead. With just one year remaining and a dead cap hit of $1.2 million left on the contract he signed in 2016, Benjamin is uncertain to remain with Los Angeles in 2019.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|9||11/03||Green Bay Packers||26||24.75|
|11||11/19||Kansas City Chiefs||21||22.67|
|17||12/29||@Kansas City Chiefs||21||22.67|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||55||31||477||3||18||15.39||67|