LaFell, who caught 64 passes for 862 receiving yards and six touchdowns last season, inked a two-year contract to remain with the Bengals in March. Since then, Cincinnati elected to draft speedy wideout John Ross (shoulder) ninth overall, adding another highly valued target to go with Pro Bowler A.J. Green and 2016 second-rounder Tyler Boyd. Despite that competition, the 30-year-old LaFell probably shouldn't be worried about his roster spot, though, as his relationship with Green, along with the fact the Bengals would eat $3 million by releasing him, makes him worth having around besides his on-field utility. Nonetheless, given Cincy's growing amount of notable pass-catching options, which also includes rookie tailback Joe Mixon, it'd be surprising if LaFell approaches his totals from a year ago.
The Bengals selected John Ross (shoulder) at No. 9 overall to join a wideout group that already includes LaFell, A.J. Green and 2015 second-round selection Tyler Boyd, Paul Daugherty of The Cincinnati Enquirer reports.
The Bengals might have opted against re-signing LaFell on a two-year contract if they'd known they were going to use their first-round selection on another wideout. As is, the team appears to have three legitimate competitors for the starting job across from Green, though whoever ends up as the No. 3 wideout should also be a key part of the offense. Even if he wins the starting gig out of camp, LaFell is a long shot to approach last year's stat line of 64 receptions for 862 yards and six touchdowns on 106 targets. Ross and Boyd both have more long-term potential, in addition to immediate big-play capability.
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.
|P3||8/27/17||@ WAS||4:30 pm|
|P4||8/31/17||@ IND||7:00 pm|
|3||9/24/17||@ GB||4:25 pm|
|4||10/1/17||@ CLE||1:00 pm|
|Bye: Week 6|
|7||10/22/17||@ PIT||1:00 pm|
|9||11/5/17||@ JAC||1:00 pm|
|10||11/12/17||@ TEN||1:00 pm|
|11||11/19/17||@ DEN||4:25 pm|
|15||12/17/17||@ MIN||1:00 pm|
|17||12/31/17||@ BAL||1:00 pm|
|2014||New England Patriots||16||13||74||953||12.9||56||7||10||2||50|
|2015||New England Patriots||11||7||37||515||13.9||54||0||7||2||22|
|2014||New England Patriots||16||13||2||13||6.5||9||0||0||0|
|2015||New England Patriots||11||7||2||9||4.5||9||0||0||0|
|2014||New England Patriots||16||13||0||0||---||0||---||0||0||0||0/0||0||0||---|
|2015||New England Patriots||11||7||0||0||---||0||---||0||0||0||0/0||0||0||---|
|2014||New England Patriots||16||1||0||0.0||0||0||0|
|2015||New England Patriots||11||0||0||---||0||0||0|
|2014||New England Patriots||16||0||0||0||---||0||0||0|
|2015||New England Patriots||11||0||0||0||---||0||0||0|
|2014||New England Patriots||16||2||2.0||0||0||0||0||0.0||0||0||0|
|2015||New England Patriots||11||1||1.0||0||0||0||0||0.0||0||0||0|
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|
|2014||New England Patriots||16||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|2015||New England Patriots||11||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|