Yes, that’s right. The Panthers who are currently 5-3 and 0.5 game back in the NFC South have traded away their #1 receiver to the Bills. You may ask yourself, what did they get in return? This is where the head scratching turns to outright bang your head against the wall logic. In return for Kelvin Benjamin, the Bills gave the Panthers their 3rd and 8th round draft picks for 2018. Woohooo!
The Bills currently have the 6th best record in the NFL and with 4 more games this season against teams like the Jets, Dolphins, and Colts, how much could the Panthers really hope to get out of this deal?
As a Panthers fan I see no value or logic behind this trade. Yes, Benjamin dropped several passes this season. But he is still leads the Panthers in receiving by a significant margin. Here is his stat line so far 32 receptions (3rd on team), 475 yards (1st), 14.8 yards per reception (2nd), 2 touchdowns (2nd).
The team leader in receptions is Christian McCaffrey, yes the rookie running back, with 49 catches. 2nd is Devin Funchess with 33. 4th in receptions is tight end Ed Dickson who is filling in for the injured Greg Olsen. The Panthers have always struggled in the passing game ever since Muhsin Muhammad left the team after 2004, the Panthers have been a 1 receiver team and it has hurt them tremendously. For several years Steve Smith was the only reliable receiver on the team and opposing teams knew that and began double teaming him and effectively shutting down the pass offense and allowing themselves to focus heavily on stopping the run.
This season, the Panthers had a shaky pass game to begin with. Even though Benjamin was their #1 receiver, he was still down the ranks at 17 among all NFL receivers this season. And like I said the drops were an issue, but what do they have now?
On the entire Panthers roster only 11 players have made a reception this season through the first 8 games. Of those 11 players, 4 of them are running backs and 3 are Tight Ends. This means that a total of 4 receivers on the entire Panthers roster has made a single catch this season including Benjamin. Now without Benjamin, they have 3 players who have completed a catch.
Devin Funchess is now the #1 receiver on the Panthers. I am so excited that I’m going to run out and buy his jersey now… Said nobody ever. Funchess barely cracks the top 50 in receiving yards this season at 44th and is just as big of an issue when it comes to dropping passes. As a matter of fact he’s worse than Benjamin in that category. So far this season Funchess has dropped 25 of the 58 passes thrown to him for a completion percentage of 56.9 compared to Benjamin who has dropped 19 of 52 for a completion percentage of 62.7
What about the other 2 receivers? Surely they will step up now that they will get some playing time in Benjamin’s absence.
The other 2 receivers, Russell Shepard and Curtis Samuel, have combined for 180 yards on 18 receptions and 1 touchdown. Samuel has also dropped 7 of his 14 passes this season while Shepard dropped 7 of his 18.
Thank you Panthers for giving us fans hope of a good season and effectively ripping that away from us with possibly the worst trade the Panthers could possibly make.