The favorite number for Brandon LaFell, who is going to wear No. 11 for the Bengals, is 12 wins.
In the last three seasons new Bengals wide receiver Brandon LaFell has caught balls from Cam Newton in Carolina and Tom Brady in New England while winning 12 games each season and winning one Super Bowl.
He likes the vibes from Andy Dalton in Cincinnati.
"Once you get a taste of winning you don't want to take a step back and go somewhere where they're trying to rebuild," LaFell told a conference call of Cincinnati media Thursday shortly after signing his contract.
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"If you have options to pick and choose where you want to go, you pick and choose a team that still is winning, has a good quarterback, good system and good opportunity to win, and these guys last year won 12 games and won their division. Unfortunately the quarterback got hurt. If he stays healthy, you never know what these guys do in the playoffs. It was a situation for me to come in and continue to win."
LaFell, 29, is heading into his seventh season. He knows he's the response to losing starting wide receiver Marvin Jones and slot receiver Mohamed Sanu in free agency and he also knows five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green lines up on one side and first time Pro Bowl tight end Tyler Eifert lines up in the middle.
"I was looking for was a good team that was winning and had a good fit for me and had a good opportunity for me being one of the guys in the rotation whether it's No. 2 or No. 3," LaFell said. "I feel like I can be another weapon for Andy and this offense, and a guy that can be on the other side from A.J. and Tyler to take some of the pressure off of those guys. I'm pretty good with the run after the catch, getting the ball in my hands quick and being able to turn up the field and make guys tackle me."
LaFell is coming off a tough season, one that began on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) with a broken foot. By the time he came back to play the last 11 games, he wasn't himself and caught just 37 balls. Compare that to his career year of 2014 for the Super Bowl champion Pats with 74 catches for 953 yards.
"To go out there and get back to play at a high level, which I did the year before I got injured, it motivates me a lot," LaFell said. "I want to get back on the right foot. Going out there healthy, clean start. I just want to get back at playing at a high level and watching how I played last year definitely motivates me to work hard this offseason because I know what I put on film last year wasn't me at full strength."
According to profootballfocus.com, there are similarities in yards after catch. In 2014, his big year, LaFell was 24th in the NFL with 362 yards after the catch. It was also Sanu's big year and he was 29th with 334. Last year, Marvin Jones was 29th with 302.
And LaFell sees some similarities with the Bengals offense and what Brady does in New England.
"Both teams go with a little no-huddle, play with a little tempo, make a lot of calls at the line of scrimmage to get the whole offense into the right plays. The running backs are a big part of the passing game, and the tight ends are a big part of the passing game. And they like to stay in attack mode," said LaFell, who admits he hasn't seen much of the playbook or immersed himself in film yet. "It's similar in some aspects to the way they spread the ball around and the way they use the running backs in the passing game, but it's kind of different also."
LaFell has already texted with Dalton and it sounds like they'll try and throw before the offseason program begins April 18. Green has also hit him up and he's been in touch with fellow LSU products Andrew Whitworth and Jeremy Hill.
"Me and Big Whit have texted," said LaFell of his former mate, and he touched base with Hill on his visit because the running back stays here in the offseason and "that's my guy."
"He's one of the best young quarterbacks in the game. Got a lot of talent," LaFell said of Dalton. "Had a good run the last couple years, especially last year he had a great run, led this team to I think a (8-0) start but unfortunately he got injured. But hopefully he'll come back just the way he ended last year before he got hurt, come back and continue to lead this team because he's been getting better and better every year, led this team to the playoffs the last few years and he's a great talent."
Bengals offensive coordinator Ken Zampese told LaFell on his visit a couple of weeks ago that he envisioned moving him around and lining him up in the slot and on the outside. LaFell admitted "That caught my eye," because he loves the slot and hasn't played it since leaving Carolina in free agency after the 2013 season.
"I feel like there are a lot of mismatches in the slot," he said. "A team can only do so much. A lot of times you might get a smaller corner, or might get a slower corner or a slower linebacker on you."