LaFell has agreed to re-sign with the Bengals on a two-year deal, Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. The Bengals viewed LaFell as a priority and never let him hit the open market. He'll likely reprise his role as the No. 2 wideout, with A.J. Green leading the way while 2016 second-round selection Tyler Boyd mans the slot. LaFell could have a tough time matching last season's 106 targets, as his volume was bolstered by the prolonged injury absences of Green and TE Tyler Eifert (back). The Bengals also hope to get more out of Boyd in his second professional season.
LaFell is an offseason priority for Cincinnati, but the Bears and Bills have also expressed interest in the veteran wideout, Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. LaFell bounced back from a disappointing, injury-plagued 2015 season with the Patriots, catching 64 passes for 862 yards and six touchdowns on 106 targets while suiting up for all 16 games in his first season with the Bengals. While the team would prefer to have him back, it doesn't make sense to overpay when A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd and TE Tyler Eifert are already locked in for next season. LaFell is set to become an unrestricted free agent if the Bengals don't re-sign him before 4 p.m. ET on Thursday.
LaFell caught seven of 11 targets for 67 yards Sunday against the Ravens. LaFell once again functioned as quarterback Andy Dalton's No. 1 wide receiver with A.J. Green (hamstring) out, leading the team in both targets and receptions. The increased role allowed him to catch 64 balls for 862 yards and six touchdowns this season, but the 30-year-old LaFell will have a hard time replicating that success next year with Green healthy.
LaFell snagged six of 10 targets for 130 yards and a score in Saturday's loss to Houston. LaFell's big contribution came early in the fourth quarter on an 86-yard catch-and-run in which LaFell caught the quick slant and sped off down field. After hopping between hot and cold for much of the season, LaFell has topped 90 yards receiving in three of the five games since A.J. Green went down with an injury. Though not a consistent threat, LaFell, much like he did in New England last year, has shown his 2017 employer that he is a viable big-play threat provided he's a complement as opposed to a go-to weapon.
LaFell reeled in seven of nine passes for 91 yards during Sunday's 24-20 defeat to the Steelers. LaFell tripled up all of his teammates in terms of targets, which explains his standing as the only Bengal to surpass 20 receiving yards on the day. During A.J. Green's three-game absence due to a hamstring injury, LaFell combined for 15 receptions, 21 targets, 208 yards, and one touchdown. Respectable numbers in their own right, LaFell may be able to sustain such production if Green, who was able to practice on a limited basis this week, improves enough to be cleared for game action. No matter the makeup of Cincinnati's receiving corps, LaFell has a difficult road matchup incoming against the Texans' staunch pass defense.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
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