PITTSFORD, NY – Buffalo Bills wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin made headlines over the weekend when he dissed the team that drafted him, Carolina, and their 2015 MVP quarterback, Cam Newton.
“Looking back on it, I should’ve just been drafted by somebody else,” Benjamin told The Athletic. “I should’ve never went to Carolina. Truly, I just think Carolina was bad for me. It was a bad fit from the get-go.
Not only did the 2014 first-round pick think he needed to be drafted by a different franchise, he felt he needed a different quarterback as well.
“If you would’ve put me with any other quarterback, let’s be real, you know what I’m saying? Any other accurate quarterback like Rodgers or Eli Manning or Big Ben — anybody! — quarterbacks with knowledge, that know how to place a ball and give you a better chance to catch the ball. It just felt like I wasn’t in that position,” Benjamin added.
These days it’s rare to get such a raw response like that from a pro athlete. And while fans may appreciate Benjamin’s authenticity, Bills head coach Sean McDermott was disappointed by his top receiver’s remarks.
“Look, there’s a time and a place, and I’m not talking to specifically the comments that were made, but there’s a time and a place for things like that,” McDermott said ahead of the team’s practice on Sunday. “This was not one of them. We have a lot of respect for our opponents, number one, and everyone in the league. I’ve spoken with Kelvin and that’s not how I want us to handle things like that. We’ll move forward as a team, and I hope we’ve already done that.”
McDermott is all too familiar with Benjamin’s time with the Panthers, having spent six seasons of his in Carolina as a defensive coordinator from 2011-2016. He was present for each of the Florida State products first three seasons in the league, before coming to Buffalo ahead of the 2017 campaign. It’s that familiarity that contributed to McDermott and former Panthers assistant GM, Brandon Beane making a deal for Benjamin at the trade deadline last year.
It shouldn’t be all that surprising that McDermott reacted this way to Benjamin’s comments. Since taking the reins in Buffalo, the Bills head man has been strategically stoic and reserved when dealing with the media. Naturally, he expects the same from his players.
The timing of Benjamin’s comments is also awkward, considering the Bills will host Carolina in both team’s their first preseason game next Thursday.
“That’s part of it, but the bigger part of it is… our focus needs to be on what we’re doing,” McDermott asserted. “And like I said, we respect what they do, every opponent, everyone in the league for that matter, but the bigger part is, our focus needs to be on us and training camp.”
For what it’s worth, Newton has already responded to Benjamin’s jab. Asked about his former receiver’s remarks, Newton said he wasn’t going to stoop to that level.
“Hey, I’m not going to go back-and-forth with him,” Newton said. “I’m just going to work, you feel me? That’s all it is. You know what it is. Just work, baby.”
That’s what McDermott hopes Benjamin and his entire team will do. Put the situation behind them and focus on what’s in front of them. It sounds like Benjamin is on board, however, he didn’t back off his original comments.
“I said what I had to say about that,” Benjamin said. “It was just the heat of the moment, I was angry at the time.”
Entering the final year of his rookie contract, Benjamin could earn himself an extension with the Bills based on how he performs this year. If he should end up staying in Buffalo long-term, hopefully, rookie quarterback Josh Allen can become that QB he’s longed for.