San Diego Chargers sign WR Travis Benjamin, NT Brandon Mebane

March 10, 2016

The San Diego Chargers provided quarterback Philip Rivers with another weapon this offseason, as the team announced that it agreed to terms with former Cleveland Browns wide receiver and kick returner Travis Benjamin on a four-year deal.

“He’s just so explosive,” said quarterback Philip Rivers. “We saw it when we played them (Cleveland) last year. He makes defenses look out because he can run by you in a hurry. He is very versatile and I think he will fit right in as another guy to spread the ball around to. His punt returns are awesome when you watch them, so he will bring a lot to our return game, too.”

The 5-10, 175-pound Benjamin is a former fourth-round pick of the who Browns is coming off a career-best season in which he racked up 1,302 all-purpose yards, including single-season bests in receptions (68), receiving yards (966) and touchdown catches (five).

A native of Belle Glades, Florida, the 26-year-old Benjamin will play his fifth NFL season in 2016. He is the older brother of Carolina Panthers’ star wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin.

“Travis is explosive,” said Chargers Head Coach Mike McCoy. “He’s a playmaker that brings a different dynamic to our team. He was highly productive last season and his speed will be an asset to our offense. We’re also excited for what he can do as a returner. His speed and overall athleticism will help us in both phases.”

Benjamin has played in 54 career games and made 21 starts. In 2015, he played in all 16 games and started 15 for the Browns. His career totals include 109 catches for 1,683 yards (15.4 avg.) and 10 touchdowns; 68 punt returns for 857 yards (12.6 avg.) with three touchdowns;  14 rushes for 134 yards (9.6 avg.), and 18 kickoff returns for 468 yards (26.0 avg.). During his four years with the Browns, Benjamin caught passes from nine different quarterbacks, including Johnny Manziel.

Benjamin’s three punt return touchdowns tied for second-most in Browns history and his 12.6-yard punt return average over the 2012-15 seasons was the highest in the NFL. He set team records in Cleveland for the most punt return yards in a game and the longest punt return.

Benjamin is a three-time AFC Special Teams Player of the Week, including Week 2 of the 2015 season after a 269-yard, three-touchdown all-purpose performance in a 28-14 win over the Tennessee Titans. Benjamin’s workload that day included three catches for 115 yards and two touchdowns (60 and 50 yards) and six punt returns for 154 yards, including a 78-yard touchdown.

Chargers add former Seahawks nose tackle Mebane

The San Diego Chargers also looked to give their defense a boost, agreeing to terms on a three-year contract with former Seattle Seahawks nose tackle Brandon Mebane.

A Los Angeles native and a former Super Bowl XLVIII champion with the Seahawks, the 6-1, 311-pound Mebane returns to Southern California after spending his first nine NFL seasons in Seattle. He was drafted by the Seahawks in the third round of the 2007 NFL Draft from Cal.

Mebane has played in 142 NFL games with 134 starts, including 11 postseason games and nine starts. His career totals (postseason included) are 386 tackles, 15.5 sacks and a pair of forced fumbles. He was named All-Pro by Sports Illustrated in 2013.

Chargers re-sign backup QB Clemens

The San Diego Chargers re-signed veteran quarterback Kellen Clemens to a one-year contract on Wednesday.

The 10-year veteran has spent the past two seasons backing up Philip Rivers. Originally a second-round draft selection of the New York Jets in 2006, the 6-2, 220-pound passer has appeared in 44 career games with 21 starts. He’s completed 344 of 629 career attempts for 4,017 yards and 16 touchdowns. He completed five of six passes for 63 yards and one score last season.

Clemens is the sixth player the Chargers have added this week. The team also added wide receiver Travis Benjamin (Cleveland Browns), nose tackle Brandon Mebane (Seattle Seahawks) and free safety Dwight Lowery (Indianapolis Colts).

In addition, the team retained right tackle Joe Barksdale and tight end Antonio Gates.  Gates reportedly was signed to a two-year deal.

Chargers agree with free safety Lowery

The San Diego Chargers have agreed on a three-year contract with former Indianapolis Colts safety Dwight Lowery.

A California native (Santa Cruz), Lowery returns to the Golden State for his ninth NFL season. The 5-11, 212-pound free safety spent the 2015 season in Indianapolis. He was drafted by the New York Jets in the fourth round in 2008 and spent three years (2008-10) in New York before spending three with Jacksonville (2011-13) and one with Atlanta (2014).

Lowery brings 106 games and 73 starts of NFL experience, including six games and one start in the postseason, and his career totals (postseason included) are 399 tackles, 16 interceptions, three of which he’s returned for touchdowns, five sacks, eight forced fumbles and 60 passes defensed. Last season for the Colts, Lowery’s 83 tackles were third on the squad and his four interceptions ranked second. He returned an interception 69 yards for a touchdown in Week 3 at Tennessee.

By Staff of and news services

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