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March 07, 2014

What's the future hold for Brandon LaFell?

Midway through the 2013 season, Steve Smith began campaigning for the Panthers to re-sign wide receiver Brandon LaFell.

Flash forward to March 2014 and we now see that Carolina may not hold Smith’s stump speeches in such high regard.

With questions about the future of Smith in Carolina, mystery abounds down the wide receiving depth chart. LaFell, Ted Ginn Jr. and Domenik Hixon are all slated to become unrestricted free agents on Tuesday.

But what’s to make of LaFell, the team’s No. 2 receiver for the past two years? His promising 17 yards per catch during the 2011 season that earned him the No. 2 spot dipped to 12.8 this past season—a make-or-break year for LaFell in the final year of his rookie contract.

LaFell, the team’s best blocking receiver, has battled a case of the drops for the better part of the past two seasons. And with just 627 receiving yards on 49 catches, his statistical production left a lot to be desired from the No. 2 receiver.

LaFell signed a four-year, $3.47 million contract when he was drafted in the third round out of LSU in 2010. In his next deal, be it with the Panthers or elsewhere, he’s likely to fetch around $1 million per year.

Here’s why: LaFell did little to separate himself as a top receiver in the NFL during his four years, and as his production tapered off with more responsibility, he showed he may be better suited as a No. 3.

 

The market will soon be saturated with wide receivers just like LaFell. Jason Avant, Lance Moore and Sidney Rice are just three players who have similar numbers to LaFell and could offer equal or greater production at the same price.

Avant, a former Eagle, is known as one of the league’s good guys, and he would be instrumental in developing a young wide receivers’ meeting room. Moore, who tweeted Thursday he will be released by New Orleans, could offer keen insight into a team the Panthers will play twice a year (plus, he’s one year separated from a 1,000-yard season). And Rice would come at a bargain with injuries in his past, but still has the youth (27) and size (6-foot-4, 200 pounds) teams covet.

Once you get past the veterans on the market, then comes May’s draft, which promises to be deep at wide receiver. As many as six receivers—Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Marquise Lee, Odell Beckham Jr., Brandin Cooks and Kelvin Benjamin—could go in the first round.

Ultimately, it’s possible the Panthers will offer LaFell a cheap, short-term contract and allow LaFell to test the market. That deal would also come with the caveat that he has either lost his No. 2 spot or that he will have to compete for it like everyone else in Spartanburg.

Because the demand on receivers will be the same as it always is in the NFL, and because the supply of serviceable (and cheap) receivers will be high, there may not be a better offer out there for LaFell. 

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on March 7, 2014 at 01:09 PM | Permalink

Comments

Why don:t the Panthers trade Derek Anderson and Johnathan Stewart to get Sammy Watkins

Posted by: Eddie Byers | Mar 7, 2014 1:33:14 PM

Gettleman just called him to discuss his contract but LaFell dropped his phone

Posted by: Holla | Mar 7, 2014 2:07:05 PM

supply/demand

plenty of WR's. LaFell and Smith better lock in a "low price"(ha, I wish I got paid so low) and get to playing.

Posted by: tony clifton | Mar 7, 2014 2:43:27 PM

These players do it to themselves with huge salaries, they are not shy about making their demands when they are healthy and most use that leverage against a team in any way they can. I think they should restructure Steve Smith's contract make one key free-agent addition with physical size and stature and draft a Big physical receiver and a smaller quicker shifty receiver/return man to start working underneath the veterans. I also see Jonathan Stewart is being in jeopardy of being cut.

Posted by: Jarrod | Mar 7, 2014 3:07:34 PM

@holly hahahahahahahahahaha

Posted by: crainey | Mar 7, 2014 3:33:44 PM

*@holla

Posted by: crainey | Mar 7, 2014 3:34:35 PM

We have been needing WR since Moose and Clutch left and no one has been able to feel that spot since. Smitty has needed help and never had it and now his time is up and still no real WR. Last year was the first good sign of one hired.

As much as I love Smitty he needs go and the team needs to change. As sad as that is its fact and as they say business.

Posted by: Mark | Mar 7, 2014 4:04:16 PM

We need a #1 WR, no doubt. Teddy Ginn is a keeper, perhaps #2. And I feel strongly that Smitty would be a good Slot man/#3.
What's David G's cell digits? We need to discuss this now.

Posted by: Ron's Mom | Mar 7, 2014 4:31:35 PM

I will be brutally honest here. Our receiving core is weak! Ginn was a great addition and I strongly believe Hixon shouldve played more! That being said, cut Lafell some call him LaFail!!! Who cares he can block???? He's a WR, he needs to CATCH the ball!!! But if this team is going to be among the elite, especially on offense, big changes need to happen with the WR's as well as OL......etc.... We all know Smitty is a team and fan favorite. Hey keep him, but not as a #1 receiver and dude is too short! Which is why we see all of that attitude from him week after week! But please, Smitty as the #1 receiver? aaaaah NO! Gettlemen is going to handle this. No worries there!

Posted by: Truth Be Told | Mar 7, 2014 5:20:21 PM

Smith can still play but he will slide into #2 WR because we need a big time playmaker and for good reason...we have a QB who has been in the pro bowl 2 out of 3 years. See the logic? There is none. That's because we're desperate. Too long have we seen Smith struggle because of no one stepping. Break the laws of laws and bring in Hakeem Nicks and a 1st round WR and don't forget about an OL who can protect Newton.

Posted by: paul | Mar 8, 2014 10:17:05 PM

Release the Kraken!!!

Posted by: The Kraken | Mar 9, 2014 12:01:02 AM

What it took years for the franchise to build, Gettleman will destroy in one off season. Any goodwill and trust earned to make the Panthers a tight knit group is being sabotaged by a GM with a huge ego, who doesn't respect any of his players. Apparently, he wants credit for the success of coach Rivera and team, after he languished in the Giants organization and was passed over for GM by his assistant. Put down the donuts and call your guys!!!

Posted by: qdog112 | Mar 9, 2014 11:24:05 AM

What it took years for the franchise to build, Gettleman will destroy in one off season. Any goodwill and trust earned to make the Panthers a tight knit group is being sabotaged by a GM with a huge ego, who doesn't respect any of his players. Apparently, he wants credit for the success of coach Rivera and team, after he languished in the Giants organization and was passed over for GM by his assistant. Put down the donuts and call your guys!!!

Posted by: qdog112 | Mar 9, 2014 11:24:13 AM

As Fans, we have to trust Mr G. to do what Jerry R is paying him to do, build a team for the long haul. If that means cutting Smitty, oh well. I have been saying to trade Smitty for two maybe three years now and get draft picks for him. Now the Panthers will get nothing and only save 1 mil in cap space. Do your job Mr. G., do your job.

Posted by: vinny_57 | Mar 11, 2014 4:17:13 PM

Eddie Byers,

That is just too FUNNY LOL! Yea he had a case of the can't catch rite last season! But they want to try & trade Smith! REALLY!! He makes Cam better! What does Lafell do? Nothing!

Posted by: tibecat | Mar 12, 2014 1:01:47 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.

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