LaFell will collect a $1 million roster bonus, Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com reports. The Bengals surely would like to see some combination of John Ross (shoulder), Tyler Boyd and Josh Malone step up and push LaFell back to fourth or fifth on the depth chart, but it nonetheless makes sense to keep the 31-year-old around as insurance, given that he carries a modest 2018 base salary of $2.55 million, per OverTheCap. The team likely would've released LaFell before Sunday if it planned to do so at all, as his $1 million roster bonus now is guaranteed. He caught 64 of 106 targets for 862 yards and six scores in his first season with the Bengals, but then dropped off to a 52-548-3 receiving line on 88 targets last year. LaFell has only missed nine games in eight NFL seasons, and he's played all 16 games four of the past five seasons.
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.
LaFell (knee) returned to a full practice Thursday, Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal reports. LaFell is thus slated to play Sunday against the 0-10 Browns, who have surrendered 20 passing TDs to date. Only the Broncos (22), Texans (22) and Titans (21) have allowed more. That said, the veteran wideout's fantasy ceiling isn't especially high, considering he's averaging 3.4 catches for 34 yards through 10 games, to go along with two TDs.
|* 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|