Already-relegated Fulham's season in the Premier League came to an end with a whimper on Sunday as they were hammered 4-0 at home by Newcastle United.
"I am really proud of this group of players, and the fans were fantastic. To finish 13th is important for everyone," Benitez told reporters. "We can see the potential of these players."
He struck a cautious note over his own future as manager, however, as talks with the Newcastle hierarchy continue.
"We'll see what happens next week," he said. "Hopefully we'll find a way to move forward together."
Scott Parker, now in charge at Fulham on a full-time basis, faces the task of engineering his side's return from the Championship after ending the season in 19th place.
Shelvey smashed in his first goal of the season in the ninth minute, bringing down a high corner kick outside the area before unleashing a thunderbolt over the heads of the Fulham defenders and beyond the reach of keeper Sergio Rico.
Perez doubled the visitors' lead two minutes later when Rico parried a shot from Mohamed Diame into the path of the Spaniard, who deftly flicked in his 12th goal of the campaign.
Newcastle's Schar headed in a Matt Ritchie corner in the 61st minute, and Rondon scored a fourth shortly before the final whistle, bursting into the area and firing straight into Rico's chest before directing the rebound into the far corner.
"We were lacklustre, we lacked conviction at times and we were vulnerable on the break," Parker told reporters. "This club needs a culture, it needs an identity and that's what we're going to do.
"I've no doubt the owners will be doing everything in their power to keep the best players. Standards need to go up at the football club. If me and my coaching staff are driving the culture here, I know we'll be successful. It's going to be a busy summer in rebuilding."