ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — The Denver Broncos have traded rising wide receiver Trinity Benson to the Detroit Lions, a person familiar with the deal said Tuesday.
Speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss the move ahead of the Broncos’ afternoon news conference on cutdown day, the person said Denver receives 2022 fifth- and seventh-round draft picks and the Lions also get Denver’s sixth-round selection in 2023.
The person also confirmed the Broncos’ acquisition of linebacker and special teams standout Jonas Griffith from the 49ers along with a 2022 seventh-round pick in exchange for a sixth-round selection next year and a seventh-rounder in 2023.
That move was made to address Denver’s poor special teams play, but the Benson deal, a mild surprise, had to do with the Broncos’ crowded wide receiver room.
Benson, a 6-foot, 180-pound receiver who went undrafted out of Division II East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma, in 2019, spent two years on Denver’s practice squad and starred at Denver’s training camp this summer.
On a wide receiver corps loaded with talent — Tim Patrick, Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton and K.J. Hamler — it was Benson who day after day made the most spectacular grabs.
More importantly, he showed up big on game days.
In the Broncos’ exhibition opener at Minnesota, Benson caught touchdown passes from both Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock and he finished the preseason with eight catches for 80 yards.
He alternately showed off terrific hands, such as when he high-pointed a seemingly unreachable pass over two defenders, and his sneaky speed.
“T.B. is fast,” Hamler said recently. “Me and T.B. always talk about building a 4×100 team, and we’re trying to figure out who the anchor would be.”
Asked two weeks ago what Hamler had to do to nudge his way onto the final roster, Broncos coach Vic Fangio said he had to keep doing what he was doing because longshots had no room for error, an admonition Benson embraced.
“My whole thing coming in was continue to make plays at practice and then when game time comes, make those same plays,” he said.
Benson had good camps the last two summers, too, but he said he “popped” this summer because of his experience going up against Denver’s top defense two years in a row.
In the end, Benson couldn’t nudge out another receiver in the room, firmly established kick returner Deionte Spencer.
Benson embraced his role as the underdog in Denver’s deep receiving corps that’s full of first- and second-rounders who hail from Power Five programs.
“I came from the D-2 level, so I always come out here with a chip on my shoulder just to show that I can play with the big boys,” Benson said.
Now he’ll take that same attitude to Detroit.
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