In March, the Chargers landed former Cleveland Browns big-play wide receiver and kick returner Travis Benjamin on a four-year deal. A legitimate home-run threat, Benjamin has scored 13 touchdowns during his career and the average length of his touchdowns is an astonishing 52.3 yards per score. His 12.6-yard career punt return average from when he entered the NFL in 2012 is the highest in the NFL over the last four years (2012-15).
Benjamin was the Browns’ second-leading receiver in 2015 as he set career highs with 68 catches, 966 yards and five touchdown grabs. In September, he had a career game against Tennessee, catching touchdown passes of 50 and 60 yards, in addition to returning a punt 78 yards for another score. Benjamin joined Tavon Austin as the only players in NFL history with a 75-plus yard punt return touchdown and two 50-plus yard touchdown catches in a single game. Combined with a 54-yard touchdown catch in the Browns’ season opener against the New York Jets, Benjamin became the first player since Hall of Famer Jim Brown (1963) with four 50-plus yard touchdowns in a season’s first two games.
Benjamin’s nickname is rabbit. He earned the moniker as a youth in Florida because he used to chase rabbits that were escaping from burning cane fields. Benjamin swears that it helped him develop his speed and agility.
The Belle Glade, Florida native still returns to his hometown every offseason where he hosts a youth football camp with Deonte Thompson, who played in the NFL with Baltimore, Buffalo and Chicago from 2012-15.
Benjamin is easy to spot with his trademark long dreadlocks, which haven’t been cut since he was in the eighth grade.
Benjamin is married to the former Africa Stefanos, who worked as an on-air host at the hip-hop radio station FM Z107.9 in Cleveland.
Benjamin comes from a family with a long history in law enforcement. His mother, Cynthia Stewart, has been a sheriff’s deputy in Palm Beach County, Florida for the last 12 years, and two of his aunts, Quandra and Kimberly Stewart, both work in corrections.
Breast cancer is a cause that’s important to Benjamin as both is mother and grandmother are survivors.
Benjamin’s cousin Alphonso Marshall played cornerback for the Chicago Bears from 2004-05. His brother, Troy Stewart, played football at Bethune-Cookman.
Benjamin’s hobbies include fishing, watching track, cooking and traveling. At Miami, Benjamin set a school record in the 60 meters and he was a national finalist in the 4x100-meter relay.
TRANSACTION HISTORY: Fourth-round pick (100) by Cleveland, April 28, 2012...signed May 10...contract expired, March 9, 2016...signed four-year contract with Chargers, March 11.
2015: Caught Johnny Manziel’s first NFL touchdown pass (54 yards) Sept. 13 at N.Y. Jets...AFC Special Teams Player of Week after three TDs in 20-14 win Sept. 20 vs. Tennessee...career-best 154 punt return yards, including 78-yard TD return...season-high 115 yards receiving, including TD catches of 60 and 50 yards...finished game with 269 all-purpose yards...first player in Browns history with two receiving TDs and punt return TD in single game...team captain Oct. 11 at Baltimore...season-high nine catches and 117 yards receiving Oct. 18 vs. Denver...team-high 113 yards receiving Nov. 15 at Pittsburgh...team captain Nov. 30 vs. Ravens and caught game-tying 42-yard TD pass with 1:47 left in game.
2014: Two touchdowns, including game-winning six-yard TD catch with 1:09 remaining in 29-28 come-from-behind win at Tennessee Oct. 5...also caught 17-yarder with 6:49 left to get within six (22-28).
2013: AFC Special Teams Player of Week after team-record 179 punt return yards, including 79-yard touchdown return, Oct. 3 vs. Buffalo...most punt return yards in game by NFL player since 2004...86-yard kickoff return led to touchdown Oct. 20 at Green Bay...injured knee Oct. 27 at Kansas City...placed on “Reserve-Injured” Oct. 30.
2012: First NFL TD on 22-yard catch Sept. 23 at Buffalo...AFC Special Teams Player of Week after 149 punt return yards, including 93-yard TD return Dec. 9 vs. Kansas City...first Browns rookie with punt return TD since 1967...69-yard touchdown catch Dec. 16 at Washington.
COLLEGE: In 49 career games, totaled 131 catches for 2,146 yards and 13 TDs...sixth player in school history to surpass 2,000 yards...third in school history with 3,874 all-purpose yards.
PERSONAL: Born in Belle Glade, Fla....two-time All-Palm Beach County at Glades Central in Belle Glade...won state title as junior.