The San Diego Chargers have given Philip Rivers two important targets for the 2016 football season. The team re-signed Antonio Gates to a two-year deal worth $12 million dollars and also brought in free agent wide receiver and return man Travis Benjamin on a 4-year deal for $24 million and includes $13 million in guaranteed money.
Returning kickoffs and punts last season was an adventure for the Chargers. Jacoby Jones was brought in to be the man in that area but he first injured himself on a non-contact drill in practice then was absolutely dreadful when he played. He earned a grand total of -4 yards on his five punt returns for the team. Benjamin earned 348 yards last season returning 28 punts for the Browns. The upgrade is obvious for the Chargers special teams.
The brilliant part of this move is not only does Benjamin make the Chargers special teams better, but he is a pretty decent wide receiver to boot and is still only 26-year-old. He has a lot of upside and one would have to think playing with Philip Rivers will only boost his value.
Benjamin caught 68 balls last year for 966 yards and five touchdowns. That was his best production and luckily for him a came on a contract year. He cashed in, but some within the football community feel the Chargers got a great deal for the undersized speedy return man/wide receiver. Only time will tell.
Benjamin has elite speed and he will impact the Chargers instantly. He can line up outside to go deep and defenses will have to roll a safety over to his side to compensate. In doing that it leaves Keenan Allen and Antonio Gates open more often and Rivers will have no issues in finding the open man. The offensive production should be boosted all around with the production of Benjamin included in the system.
The retaining of Antonio Gates seems inevitable. The two sides surely did not want to break their relationship and kudos to the Chargers to ensuring that the all time great will only play for one time in his illustrious career. Antonio Gates is a San Diego Charger and now fans can rest knowing that he will return for another glorious season.
Gates provides a great safety blanket for Rivers in the middle of the field. The relationship the two have is second to none and having Gates for two more seasons will be a blessing for Rivers. Though the longtime tight end is getting up there in age he can still be productive for the Chargers. The issue now for the Bolts is that Ladarius Green appears to be headed to Pittsburgh so the Chargers will need to find a replacement for him.
Green took a lot of the snaps last season for Gates and was a vital part of the offense as well. I know his production never quite got to where Chargers fans wanted it to be, but he did provide a starting caliber tight end for Gates. The Chargers need to do some bargain shopping for a tight end. Stay tuned.