Brandon LaFell should continue his work as the Bengals' No. 2 receiver opposite A.J. Green until someone comes along and unseats him. Until then, expect mediocre stats - he's had over 100 yards in a game twice in his last three seasons with nine touchdowns in his last 43 games. If anything, he'll find his way onto your roster as a one-week replacement off of waivers.
LaFell will be granted his release by the Bengals, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reports. LaFell did earn his roster bonus in the spring, but a report emerged Wednesday that the veteran wideout wasn't necessarily a lock to make the 53-man roster. That apparently didn't sit well with LaFell, but it appears his release is something that has already been brewing behind the scenes. According to his agent Johnathan Feinsod, "We have been lobbying for his release for some time now and appreciate the Bengals granting our request." Now entering his age-31 season, LaFell will be free to catch on with an organization in need of receiver depth. He's been a plug-and-play fantasy option for most of his career, collecting 500 or more receiving yards in every season since 2011. Meanwhile, Cincinnati will move forward with A.J. Green, John Ross and Tyler Boyd atop the depth chart.
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis hinted that LaFell isn't a lock to make the 53-man roster, Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com reports. "Brandon LaFell has done a nice job," Lewis said. "He feels the heat. That's a competitive group of wide receivers. So we can only keep so many of them. They're going to be competitive that way and that's a good thing." Despite receiving a $1 million roster bonus this spring, LaFell could lose his job before Week 1 if the Bengals like what they see from their young wide receivers, a group that includes John Ross, Tyler Boyd and Josh Malone. Given that he's never been much of a factor on special teams, LaFell won't have much value to the Bengals if he tumbles to fourth or fifth on the depth chart at wide receiver. The 31-year-old is scheduled for a non-guaranteed $2.55 million base salary in the second season of a two-year contract.
LaFell may emerge as a candidate for release at some point this offseason, Paul Dehner Jr. of The Cincinnati Enquirer reports. LaFell doesn't have guaranteed money remaining on the two-year contract he signed last offseason, but it also isn't an especially cumbersome deal. The Bengals still aren't quite sure what they have in the youthful trio of John Ross (shoulder), Tyler Boyd and Josh Malone. The team ideally would like to see its young wideouts step up and impress during the offseason, which in turn could make LaFell expendable before Week 1. The 31-year-old was inefficient with his opportunities in 2017, catching 52 of 88 targets for 548 yards (6.2 per target) and three touchdowns.
LaFell had two catches for 35 yards on four targets in the Bengals' Week 17 win over the Ravens. He finished the season with 52 catches for 548 yards and three touchdowns. Despite the Bengals spending a first-round draft pick on a wide receiver (John Ross) this year and a second-round pick on Tyler Boyd last year, LaFell remained the Bengals' No. 2 option in the passing game, albeit with diminishing returns. His yards per reception dropped a full three yards, from 13.5 to 10.5, and his touchdowns were cut in half. If he sticks around next year, look for his reps to be cut in favor of Boyd and Ross.
LaFell made four catches for 55 yards on seven targets in Monday's 23-20 loss to the Steelers. LaFell continues to rank as quarterback Andy Dalton's second option in the passing game. The veteran receiver doesn't look to be at risk of losing that status over the Bengals' final four games, especially now that John Ross (shoulder) has been shut down for the season.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|7||10/21||@Kansas City Chiefs||30||23.35|
|8||10/28||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||31||23.75|
|10||11/11||New Orleans Saints||20||20.00|
|14||12/09||@Los Angeles Chargers||7||17.00|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||89||51||642||3||30||12.59||82|