Panthers pick up Kelvin Benjamin's 5th-year option despite reported weight concerns
Benjamin showed up to Panthers workouts overweight
Kelvin Benjamin will likely be spending at least a couple more years with the Carolina Panthers. Benjamin was heading into the final season of his four-year rookie contract, but according to a report from ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Panthers have exercised his fifth-year option, ensuring he'll stay with Carolina through at least 2018.
The move comes a day after there were reported concerns in Panthers camp about Benjamin's weight issues. One report stated that Benjamin showed up for workouts weighing nearly 280 pounds, 40 pounds more than his listed weight of 240.
The Panthers, but coach Ron Rivera did admit that Benjamin came to camp heavy.
"He is a little heavy. He knows it. We've talked about it. We talked about what he has to do, and he's done a great job," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Saturday, per the Charlotte Observer. "Am I concerned? Yes, because he is heavy. I'm going to admit that right now. But is he working hard? Absolutely. He's been there everyday and done the things we've asked him to do, and it's all strictly on a voluntary basis."
Benjamin caught 73 passes for 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns as a rookie in 2014, but tore his ACL in training camp before the 2015 season and missed the whole year. He returned last season to catch 63 passes for 941 yards and seven scores.
The Panthers added two versatile short-to-intermediate passing game weapons for Cam Newton in last week's draft (Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel), hoping to complement the downfield threat Benjamin and tight end Greg Olsen provide. It remains to be seen how those additions will eat into Benjamin's role in the offense, but the Panthers obviously feel comfortable enough with his contributions to pay him $10,897,625 over the next two seasons.
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