It’s not that the Panthers traded Kelvin Benjamin, it’s how they traded him.
We all love the Carolina Panthers for their pound ‘em philosophy on the field and their ongoing soap opera off it. But how can the team add to that drama in the middle of a playoff run? By trading first-round draft pick and leading receiver Kelvin Benjamin the way they did.
I understand the Panthers need to open up their running game by spreading the field with faster receivers. I get that Benjamin and Devin Funchess are big and strong but not the speed burners who can separate themselves from defenders. And, yes, they both want to be targeted more.
So interim general manager Marty Hurney decided to deal Benjamin to the Buffalo Bills for a couple of future draft picks. But, based on reactions of several key Panthers, Hurney didn’t bother telling anyone he was doing it. Not smart, for several reasons.
Don’t you think Hurney should tell Cam Newton he is about to trade his top receiver and best friend on the team and at least take Cam’s temperature about it? After all, it’s not like Newton has a cement-like character where nothing bothers him. Hardly. Newton can be emotional, a quality that makes him dangerous both on and off the field. Where that often work in the favor of the Panthers, surprises like this one can upset the balance.
So, if the front office decides to deal Benjamin, you are not exactly asking Newton’s permission, but you have to sell the trade to him. After last Sunday’s win at Tampa Bay, Newton went on about how happy he was for Benjamin that he could play in his home state and see his ailing mother.
Why not talk to your quarterback, at the very least?
“Cam, sure you will miss Kelvin, but this is better for you and for the team. Your passing metrics have gone down since Ted Ginn Jr. left and we need to get the ball downfield more, so the defense will loosen up and we can run the ball better. That will improve your yards-per-completion stats.”
Would it really have been that difficult to at least warn him, to try and get him on board?
“Giving speedsters like Russell Shepard, Curtis Samuel and Kaelin Clay more snaps will result in more yards, more touchdowns and more wins. So, this is better for you and for us. We need you to buy into this trade and make sure the other players are on board, as well. Besides, Benjamin is a free agent after the season and can walk for nothing. We need to get something in return.”
Don’t just ship a player off and wait for Twitter to explode. We’ll see Sunday versus the Falcons how this plays out, whether there will be more pass completions and points, or more drama.