Bengals stop free-agent exodus at receiver, keep Brandon LaFell

ESPN 150 ranking: 101

Grade: A -- Does A seem too high for a player who's not a superstar? When you consider how many players the Bengals lost in free agency last season, they get top marks for retaining one of their own. LaFell is a solid veteran contributor, which the Cincinnati Bengals need. He's not A.J. Green, but he nicely filled a need in 2016.

What it means: The Bengals rarely dip their toes into the free agency waters, so LaFell has been a pleasant surprise for them. It was expected they would try to retain him if possible. LaFell was one of the more important free agents to bring back outside of their "top 3" -- Dre Kirkpatrick, Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler.

The Bengals let two of their wide receivers get away in free agency last season -- Marvin Jones went to the Detroit Lions with the intention of being a No. 1 receiver, and Mohamed Sanu signed a significant contract with the Atlanta Falcons. They weren't about to let that happen again.

The Bengals have several young receivers on their roster, including Tyler Boyd and Cody Core, and there's a lot of uncertainty among the pass-catchers with Green, running back Giovani Bernard and tight end Tyler Eifert all recovering from injuries. It makes perfect sense to try to maintain some stability going into 2017.

What’s the risk: Minimal. LaFell signed a one-year deal in 2016 and hit all his contract incentives, finishing second on the team in receiving yards. Although he had some quiet stretches during the season, the Bengals had trouble finding consistency among anyone in that group.

However, LaFell stepped up after Green went down, finishing with 288 yards and a touchdown in the last three games of the season. If he can enter 2017 the way he ended 2016, the Bengals will be in good shape at receiver.