The San Diego Chargers have agreed to terms with former Cleveland Browns wide receiver and kick returner Travis Benjamin on a four-year deal, the team announced on Wednesday.
The 5-10, 175-pound Benjamin is a former fourth-round pick of the who Browns is coming off a career-best season in which he racked up 1,302 all-purpose yards, including single-season bests in receptions (68), receiving yards (966) and touchdown catches (five).
A native of Belle Glades, Florida, the 26-year-old Benjamin will play his fifth NFL season in 2016. He is the older brother of Carolina Panthers’ wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin.
“Travis is explosive,” said Chargers Head Coach Mike McCoy. “He’s a playmaker that brings a different dynamic to our team. He was highly productive last season and his speed will be an asset to our offense. We’re also excited for what he can do as a returner. His speed and overall athleticism will help us in both phases.”
“He’s just so explosive,” echoed quarterback Philip Rivers. “We saw it when we played them (Cleveland) last year. He makes defenses look out because he can run by you in a hurry. He is very versatile and I think he will fit right in as another guy to spread the ball around to. His punt returns are awesome when you watch them, so he will bring a lot to our return game, too.”
Benjamin has played in 54 career games and made 21 starts. In 2015, he played in all 16 games and started 15 for the Browns. His career totals include 109 catches for 1,683 yards (15.4 avg.) and 10 touchdowns; 68 punt returns for 857 yards (12.6 avg.) with three touchdowns; 14 rushes for 134 yards (9.6 avg.), and 18 kickoff returns for 468 yards (26.0 avg.). During his four years with the Browns, Benjamin caught passes from nine different quarterbacks, including Johnny Manziel.
Benjamin’s three punt return touchdowns tied for second-most in Browns history and his 12.6-yard punt return average over the 2012-15 seasons was the highest in the NFL. He set team records in Cleveland for the most punt return yards in a game and the longest punt return.
Benjamin is a three-time AFC Special Teams Player of the Week, including Week 2 of the 2015 season after a 269-yard, three-touchdown all-purpose performance in a 28-14 win over the Tennessee Titans. Benjamin’s workload that day included three catches for 115 yards and two touchdowns (60 and 50 yards) and six punt returns for 154 yards, including a 78-yard touchdown.
About the San Diego Chargers:
The San Diego Chargers originated as the Los Angeles Chargers of the American Football League in 1960. The team relocated to San Diego in 1961 and captured the American Football League championship in 1963. The Chargers finished first in five of their 10 AFL seasons. Since joining the National Football League when the two leagues merged in 1970, the Chargers have won 11 AFC West division titles. Overall, the team has played in 28 playoff games, including Super Bowl XXIX following the 1994 season. Most recently, over the last 12 seasons (2004-15), the Chargers have won five division titles and had just two losing seasons.
Construction leader and real estate developer Alex G. Spanos purchased the team in 1984 and his son Dean Spanos took over the reins of the team in 1994. Dean’s sons, A.G. and John, were named President-Business Operations and President-Football Operations, respectively, in 2015. The Spanos family is nationally renowned as one of San Diego’s and the NFL’s most philanthropic families. The family has contributed millions of dollars and endless support to deserving civic, social and non-profit organizations. In addition, millions of dollars also have been invested in an effort to secure a modern, Super Bowl-quality stadium for San Diego.
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