Normally, rookie minicamps in the NFL are opportunities for young and unknown players who are simply trying to get coaches' attention and put themselves on the pro football radar. But in the Meadowlands, one of the participants in Giants rookie minicamp will be a former first-round pick looking for a way back into the league after two years out of football.
According to Jordan Raanan of ESPN, wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin is expected to be among the tryout players at this week's rookie minicamp for the New York Giants. And he'll be there at a new position: Tight end.
This is the second time that Benjamin has been linked to the Giants, as he was invited to try out for the team after they experienced a rash of injuries at wide receiver during training camp in 2019. However, Benjamin never attended that tryout and has been out of football since the end of the 2018 season.
Benjamin's career in the NFL so far has been one defined by a hot start that turned into a bizarre downward spiral: Drafted to replace Panthers legend Steve Smith, Benjamin had 73 receptions for 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns as a rookie, but missed the entire 2015 season after tearing his ACL in training camp. After the Panthers went 15-1 and to Super Bowl 50 despite Benjamin's absence, the return of Benjamin in 2016 was expected to be a big boost for Carolina and for quarterback Cam Newton.
However, despite still having respectable production in 2016 -- 63 receptions for 941 yards and seven touchdowns -- Benjamin's play began to bog down Carolina's offense, and he was eventually traded to the Buffalo Bills midway through the 2017 season.
Any goodwill that Benjamin had left with the Panthers completely evaporated in 2018, when he blamed his shortcomings on Newton's lack of accuracy in an interview with The Athletic. He has since become a reviled figure, particularly given that Newton's first major shoulder injury -- a partially torn rotator cuff suffered in 2016 -- came because Benjamin made a lack of effort in chasing down an interception return, leading to Newton trying to tackle the ball carrier and injuring himself.
Things went completely downhill for Benjamin after his comments to The Athletic, as issues with his effort, weight, and overall play all became sore points in Buffalo. At one point, ESPN analyst Booger McFarland infamously quipped that Benjamin was "a Popeye's biscuit away from being a tight end." Benjamin was cut by the Bills late in the season, and signed with the Kansas City Chiefs to finish the season. Benjamin caught two passes for 26 yards in a Chiefs uniform, but was a healthy scratch for their playoff games and has been out of football ever since.
After turning 30 in February, it's uncertain exactly how serious a push Benjamin will make toward making an NFL comeback. And even if he does, it may not come with the Giants: The team made a complete overhaul of their wide receiving corps this offseason, signing big target Kenny Golladay in free agency before using the No. 20 overall pick in the draft on gadget receiver Kadarius Toney. Big Blue has a deep group of receivers competing for a roster spot, a group which also includes other former top draft picks such as John Ross and Dante Pettis. At TE, meanwhile, they also signed Kyle Rudolph to back up Evan Engram.