Arrelious Benn was happy to get out of Tampa

arrelious-benn-slide.jpg

Arrelious Benn was happy to get out of Tampa

When most players are asked to describe their reaction to a trade, most say they were surprised.

Arrelious Benn wasn't.

The Eagles last week acquired Benn from Tampa Bay and on Thursday signed the fourth-year wide receiver to a one-year extension through 2014. The 39th overall pick of the 2010 draft, Benn is still waiting to meet the expectations that come with being a second-round pick.

And he knew it wasn't going to happen in Tampa. So when he heard about the trade, Benn was pleased.

"I was excited," he said. "I'm from D.C. Quick ride up the street."

But that's not really why he was excited.

"I wanted to move forward," he said. "I didn't want to be there."

And the feeling was mutual.

"I was expecting [to be on a new team]," he said.

"I just needed a change of scenery. I just needed a fresh start. The situation just wasn't going right."

Benn started nine of 14 games played as a rookie with the Buccaneers, recording 25 catches for 395 yards and two scores. He started all 14 games he played in 2011, but his production increased only moderately -- 30 for 441 and three.

Last season he had four receptions for 26 yards in eight game (one start) before being placed on injured reserve because of knee and shoulder injuries. Or maybe there was more to it.

"My shoulder wasn't an issue," he said. "My knee really wasn't an issue, but things need to be done. I ended up on I.R. I took it. I'm bouncing back."

That said, Benn doesn't deny that injuries have been an issue for him. He suffered a torn ACL in Week 16 of his rookie season, a concussion in 2011 and a sprained MCL last year in training camp.

Regardless of whether he should have been on I.R. or not last year, he blames injuries for his unfulfilled potential.  

"To be honest with you, I don't like my career. I've got to stay healthy," he said. "I've had a problem with injuries. When I was healthy out there, I made plays. I was consistent. The big thing for me is to stay healthy. It's no secret. I know that. I'm going to be honest with myself and just come in here and do what I've got to do. The old [way] wasn't working, so I'm finding new ways to stay healthy -- doing the little things that I've got to do."

Like what?

"Maybe not being so physical -- the little things that I do," the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Benn said. "Go down sometimes. That's pretty much it."

But being physical is a key part of his game.

"Get the ball in my hands, [I'm] a guy that can run after the catch," he said.

Which makes him a candidate to not only play outside -- where he's normally played -- but also in the slot.

"I think I have the skill set to play both," he said. "I think I'm a mismatch in the slot with my speed and size."

That makes him an attractive red zone option, which the Eagles have sorely lacked. They've also lacked a prolific kick returner. Benn can do that, too. Last season he returned 13 kickoffs for 306 yards (average of 23.5) with a long of 55.

But the only way he'll be able to do any of those things is if he stays healthy.

"Injuries were the thing [last year]. That's the past," he said. "I really don't even care too much about it. I'm looking forward. I'm an Eagle now."

And he's healthy:

"I'm as healthy as healthy can be."

NHL Notes: Rangers' Kevin Hayes out 2-3 weeks with lower-body injury

NHL Notes: Rangers' Kevin Hayes out 2-3 weeks with lower-body injury

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers forward Kevin Hayes will miss two to three weeks with a lower-body injury.

The team announced the timeline Monday after Hayes underwent an MRI in the morning. Hayes left the Rangers' game Sunday against the Detroit Red Wings during the second period.

Hayes had seven points in his previous six games and is third on the team in points with 35. The 24-year-old has 13 goals and 22 assists in 47 games this season.

His injury is a major blow to New York, which holds the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The silver lining for the Rangers is that Hayes will miss fewer games because of the upcoming All-Star break.

Senators sign Zack Smith to 4-year, $13 million extension
OTTAWA, Ontario -- The Ottawa Senators have signed forward Zack Smith to a four-year contract extension worth $13 million.

The Senators said that the extension goes through the 2020-21 season and carries an annual average value of $3.25 million.

Smith, 28, has 11 goals and 11 assists in 43 games this season and is averaging a career-high 16 minutes, 13 seconds per game.

He set career highs with 25 goals and 36 points in 2015-16. He has 75 goals and 61 assists in 443 games, all with the Senators.

Smith was Ottawa's third-round pick (79th overall) in the 2008 draft.

Stay or Go Part 8: Ryan Mathews to Steven Means

Stay or Go Part 8: Ryan Mathews to Steven Means

In the eighth of our 12-part offseason series examining the future of the Eagles, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro give their opinions on who will be and who won't be on the roster in 2017. We go alphabetically — Part 8 is Mathews to Means.

Ryan Mathews
Cap hit: $5M

Roob: The Eagles have to get better, younger, faster, healthier, more durable and more reliable at running back. I love the way Mathews runs when he’s healthy. The guy runs hard and he runs physical and he's aggressive. Then he always gets hurt. Mathews actually has the third-highest per-carry average among running backs in Eagles history, but they just can’t rely on him anymore. How can you count on a running back who misses significant time every year? Time to move on. Factor in the cap savings — $4 million if the Eagles release him — and it’s a no-brainer.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: The Eagles can save $4 million in cap room to cut the running back who needed serious neck surgery after his season was ended in the Giants' game. Mathews played pretty well in his two seasons with the Eagles, but, as has been the case during his career, health was an issue. And now he’s 29 and will turn 30 early into next season. Time to move on. 

Verdict: GOES

Jordan Matthews
Cap hit: $1.57M

Roob: Matthews is going into Year 4 and I’d still like to see him make a jump and become a 1,200-yard type of receiver. Maybe it will happen with another year under his belt with Carson Wentz. Matthews has the 11th-most catches in NFL history by a player in his first three seasons — 225, or 75 per year — but his 2,673 yards are 50th most. Matthews is as hard a worker and as committed a player as you’ll see. He'll get the most out of his ability. I’d just like to see him take his game up one more level, and I think he will.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: It’s a shame the Eagles don’t have any legitimate threats at their outside receiver positions, because if they did, so much of the burden wouldn’t fall on Matthews. No, he’s not a great receiver, but he’s a very good one who has been solid in his first three years in the league. In his first three seasons, Matthews has 225 catches for 2,673 yards and 19 touchdowns. There have been just 10 receivers in the league to put up those numbers or better: Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Demaryius Thomas, Odell Beckham Jr., DeAndre Hopkins, Emmanuel Sanders, Doug Baldwin, Mike Evans, Randall Cobb and Brandon Marshall. Matthews isn’t going anywhere and it’s time to think about an extension. 

Verdict: STAYS

Alex McCalister
Cap hit: $557K

Roob: McCalister, a seventh-round defensive end, spent the year on injured reserve but considering the Eagles’ lack of pass-rush potency, he’ll definitely get a look this summer. McCalister had 17½ sacks at Florida, so he’s got that going for him. Still a long shot.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: This is tough because McCalister was a seventh-round draft pick who was placed on IR with a injury that didn’t appear to be serious. The last year was a redshirt season for the defensive end who has some pass-rush ability but needed to work on packing more muscle onto his frame. Haven’t seen enough to think he sticks. 

Verdict: GOES

Leodis McKelvin
Cap hit: $3.45M

Roob: The Eagles have to do better than McKelvin. He made a few plays, gave up a lot more, and as far as I’m concerned, the Eagles should hang onto Jalen Mills and get rid of all their other corners. Not to mention the $3.2 million in cap savings the Eagles would gain if McKelvin is released. See ya.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: The Eagles can save $3.2 million by cutting McKelvin, which will probably happen. If it doesn’t, it’ll be because the Eagles think his lingering hamstring issue played a big role in his play and because defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz goes to bat for him. Ultimately, I think McKelvin’s days in Philly are over. 

Verdict: GOES

Rodney McLeod
Cap hit: $5.6M

Roob: McLeod played really well most of the season, tailed off the last few weeks, and goes into next year a question mark because of that inconsistency. When he’s right, McLeod is a sure tackler, willing run supporter, big hitter and capable in coverage. But those last few weeks raised some eyebrows. There were times you just wondered what he was doing out there. If the Eagles can have the first-10-games McLeod for a full season, they’re fine. But he has to be consistent. He’ll be here through 2017 but after that is anybody’s guess. Another mixed year will likely spell the end here for McLeod.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: There were a few plays that showed questionable effort from McLeod this season, which was shocking based on his past. He was an undrafted rookie who worked his way into the league and into a contract with the Eagles. This ended up being a pretty good signing; he had a nice season. He’s under contract through 2020 and the Eagles hope he hasn’t yet fulfilled his potential. He and Malcolm Jenkins should only get better after more time playing together. 

Verdict: STAYS

Steven Means
Cap hit: $690K

Roob: Means, a veteran journeyman defensive end, played only 36 snaps all year. He did pick up one sack against the Vikings, but as far as his future? Most likely, he won’t be back.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: Means did everything in his power last training camp to make the 2016 roster. He flashed every day and in the preseason games. But in 2016, he didn’t get to play very much and was clearly buried on the depth chart behind Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry and Marcus Smith. The Eagles need to upgrade at the defensive end spot, which might be bad news for Means if more bodies come in. But for now, he's a good depth piece. 

Verdict: STAYS