Kelvin Benjamin had a chance to revitalize his career as a free agent signing with the New York Giants this offseason, but that’s far from how things actually turned out. The 30 year old wide receiver ended up released, and not only missed out on a chance to play this season but also caused quite a bit of drama on the way out.
It all stems from Benjamin showing up for practice on Wednesday and apparently getting into a dispute with head coach Joe Judge over his weight. The Giants required Benjamin to cut his weight down to 251 pounds, but his weight instead increased slightly since the end of minicamp. But Benjamin claims that others in the team building had previously told him that his weight was fine, and that the weight cut was an impossible request.
“Iâ€™m like: â€˜Iâ€™m trying everything I can to be here. You wonâ€™t even let me on the field to show what I can do. I played receiver at 268 [pounds] and I almost had 1,000 yards [in 2016]. So why do you want me to come back at 251 at tight end?â€™” Benjamin told NJ Advance Media on Wednesday.
He claims that Judge just personally doesn’t like him, and that it led to the confrontation at practice and his release.
“The day before practice, he didnâ€™t bring all of this up. I just felt like the dude didnâ€™t like me. Mr. Gettleman knew exactly what went down. Itâ€™s crazy how they twisting the narrative about everything like itâ€™s a joke. They make it seem like we donâ€™t even matter,” Benjamin said about Judge. He’d also say other things, claiming that Judge’s style won’t win a Super Bowl.
It’s not the first time Judge has been criticized for his style, but some players disagree.
New York Giants defend Joe Judge
Since the incident, several New York Giants players have been active in defending their head coach.
“Heâ€™s very intense, but I feel like he prepares us each and every day for the game. Thatâ€™s his motto. Thatâ€™s his mindset and it helps and it works. So for us, it gets us excited for practice,” said defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence.
His sentiment was echoed by cornerback James Bradberry, who has looked like one of the best corners in the league under Judge’s leadership. He spoke with the New York Daily News, and gave his take on the situation.
“It ainâ€™t for everybody. You feel me? Heâ€™s entitled to his opinion. I definitely think Coach Judge is tough. But football is tough. Thereâ€™s a lot of pressure being in our shoes, so I donâ€™t expect him to give us our way all the time,” Bradberry stated. “A tough coach, thatâ€™s how you build structure. Thatâ€™s how you build discipline.”
“It ainâ€™t for everybody, man, ya know? It ainâ€™t for everybody,” Bradberry would add.
It’s a sentiment that seems to follow in the footsteps of two very successful head coaches that Judge has worked under – Bill Belichick and Nick Saban. Both of them have had problems with players over the years due to their strict nature, but have found tremendous success despite their style being deemed ‘not for everyone’ by many former players.
The current Giants roster, at least, seems to be all for Judge’s current style. As do the free agents who joined this offseason, many of whom specifically cited Judge as part of their reason for picking the Giants.
His style may not be for Kelvin Benjamin, but at the very least, it’s working with the group of players the Giants have now.