Bengals Sign Former New England Patriots’ WR Brandon LaFell
The Bengals announced Thursday that they will be signing WR Brandon LaFell after spending the past two seasons in New England. LaFell had a career year in 2014, posting 74 receptions and seven touchdowns and helping the Patriots capture a Super Bowl victory.
However, LaFell saw his role diminish drastically in 2015. He caught only 37 passes and no touchdowns in 11 games after battling a foot injury. He has 278 receptions, 3,853 yards, and 20 touchdowns in six seasons after being drafted in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers.
The Cincinnati Bengals lost both Mohamed Sanu (Atlanta Falcons) and Marvin Jones (Detroit Lions) to free agency this past month. That left a glaring hole at the receiver position. A.J Green is double teamed regardless of who is on the other side, but it helps to have someone at least respectable.
Prior to this signing, analysts everywhere predicted the Bengals to select a receiver with the 24th overall pick in the upcoming NFL draft. With the departure of Sanu, they lost a reliable slot presence. LaFell is a bigger guy (6’3″ and 210 lbs.) that’s better suited for the outside. That way, the Bengals can look to the draft to find Sanu’s replacement. Josh Doctson from TCU and Michael Thomas from Ohio State are two guys reportedly drawing interest from the Bengals.
NFL.com ranked Tyler Eifert and A.J. Green as the fourth-best pass catching duo in the NFL. However, after these two guys, there was not much depth at the positions. The Cincinnati Bengals boasted one of the NFL’s best passing offenses last season, especially in the 13 games Andy Dalton was healthy. Dalton was having a career year throwing for 3,250 yards, 25 touchdowns and only seven interceptions before missing the rest of season due to a thumb injury. Sanu and Jones obviously played two big roles in that equation. With the addition of WR Brandon LaFell, Andy Dalton gets another big target to help in the red zone.
A pass attack featuring these three guys inside the 20 can be quite intimidating for opposing defenses. At 29 years old, don’t expect LaFell to come in and dominate. However, if he can stay healthy, he can still produce. This signing doesn’t immediately fix their first round playoff woes, but it does help. They added a viable option at receiver after losing two of their own to free agency. After five consecutive first-round playoff exits, will this be the year the Bengals finally get over the hump?