Panthers pick up fifth-year option on WR Kelvin Benjamin

Carolina exercises option on top overall 2014 NFL Draft pick despite weight issues resurfacing

Bob Donnan—USA TODAY Sports
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin (13) scores a touchdown as wide receiver Devin Funchess (17) reacts and San Francisco 49ers strong safetys Antoine Bethea (41) and Jaquiski Tartt (29) defends in the third quarter. The Panthers defeated the 49ers 46-27 at Bank of America Stadium.

Kelvin Benjamin will remain a member of the Carolina Panthers’ receiving corps for at least the next two years as the team will reportedly exercise its fifth-year option on the 2014 first-round pick.The news was first reported by Adam Schefter of ESPN.
Panthers exercised fifth-year option for WR Kelvin Benjamin, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 2, 2017
Despite a breakout rookie campaign in which he caught 73 passes for 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns, there were questions about whether or not the Panthers would pick up the option. Following that rookie year, Benjamin missed the entire 2015 season and saw a dip in production last year as the reigning NFC Champions struggled to find consistency offensively with him in the fold. Earlier this week, Panthers coach Ron Rivera also raised a red flag about Benjamin’s weight issues resurfacing.”He is a little heavy. He knows it,” Rivera said Saturday. “We’ve talked about it. We talked about what he has to do, and he’s done a great job.”There doesn’t sound like much concern initially on Rivera’s part and the season is still more than four months away. But with questions about his conditioning and extra pounds contributing to hamstring issues two years ago, Rivera didn’t parse words when he was asked about his concern.”Am I concerned? Yes, because he is heavy. I’m going to admit that right now,” Rivera added. “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.”The fifth-year option, however, proves the team has faith that he will correct any weight issues and prove to be a valuable cog in the offense yet again. At 6-foot-5, [weight undisclosed] Benjamin is still a massive target for Cam Newton and a potential home run hitter when he’s healthy.