Former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Brandon LaFell has made headlines this offseason by accident. He’s made comments, comparing his old organization to his new one. He said he wanted to play for a winning one — New England. He said that in New England, practices reach a higher octane. “It’s not like we didn’t work hard in Carolina, but we work a little harder here,” LaFell said via David Newton of ESPN’s NFL Nation.
The parting-of-ways that occurred this offseason was mutual. And not the kind of mutual most people say their break up went. This one actually seems to make sense in hindsight.
Under Tom Brady, LaFell has every opportunity to succeed in a high-volume passing offense. Carolina was favoring the run. LaFell is a young, perhaps up-and-coming receiver. Carolina favored cheaper and better established veterans.
“LaFell caught 167 passes for 2,385 yards and 13 touchdowns in four seasons. Jason Avant, one of the players brought in to replace him, had 194 catches for 2,347 yards and four touchdowns over the same time frame. Wash.
Jerricho Cotchery had 10 touchdowns last season — three fewer than LaFell in four years — and only three less catches (46) and 25 fewer yards (602) than LaFell a year ago. Wash. Maybe even a win for Carolina when you consider the number of big plays Cotchery has made over his career.
It seems that the Panthers more than break even in terms of past production. Any production that Brandon LaFell attains this year is somewhat irrelevant. Comparing the season he could have with the Patriots to the season he could have had with the Panthers is like comparing apples to a hypothetical orange.
So even if LaFell is a hit in New England, he won’t be missed in Carolina.