One of the few bright selections from the disastrous 2012 NFL draft for the Browns, Benjamin was selected in the fourth round (100th overall). The heir-apparent to Josh Cribbs as the return specialist, Benjamin slotted behind Cribbs on the depth chart and he would occasionally see action at wide receiver. I attended the game against the Kansas City Chiefs that year and witnessed an unforgettable moment: a punt return touchdown by Travis Benjamin. When the 2012 season ended, Benjamin had a reputation for his trailblazing speed. He mentioned that when he was growing up in Florida, he would often chase rabbits as a kid. Unsurprisingly, we called him “The Rabbit” because nobody could catch him.
Benjamin dressed for all 16 games in 2014, however he did not start any of those games. It was a relatively uneventful season for him with only a few receiving touchdowns. His coming out party came in 2015. He exploded in the first three games, accounting for five out of the seven Cleveland Browns touchdown (one of them a punt return). His insane speed blew cornerbacks away and he became the ideal target for Johnny Manziel. Benjamin would often be uncontested because defensive backs were lagging so far behind him, so when the ball was sent his way, it was almost a guaranteed touchdown. His three touchdowns from Manziel were 54, 60, and 50 yards, respectively. Even Josh McCown found him in one of those 5 touchdowns, although it was only a four yard reception. Benjamin cooled down and wouldn’t catch a touchdown again until week 10, this time from Austin Davis. Pretty impressive to catch a TD from three different quarterbacks in one season.
Unfortunately, it seemed like Travis Benjamin wanted out of Cleveland, despite what early reports said. After signing a four year $24 million dollar contract with the San Diego Chargers, he was asked if it was easy for him to leave Cleveland. His reply? “Not at all.” It’s unfortunate that’s what the status quo is for the Browns, where we have trouble retaining our players. I wish him the best of luck in San Diego, but I’ll be looking forward to making him eat those words when he plays against us. No hard feelings, right?
GOOD LUCK, TRAVIS!