But it was Cincinnati Bengals seven-time Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green who was sad to see his friend go because of what he brought to the team.
“Brandon was a guy who was great for our room,” Green said on the Bengals website. “A veteran who knows how to be a pro, knows every position, could have plugged him in anywhere so losing him hurts, but it’s a business. Me and Brandon became real close this last year. He was one of my friends off the field. It’s tough, but it’s a business and he knows the business side of it.”
In March, LaFell was paid $1.25 million roster bonus money with the Bengals but was released during training camp. He signed a one-year contract with the Raiders on Monday and quickly got acclimated with the surroundings at the practice facility in Alameda.
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Now it’s catch-up time for LaFell since the Raiders open the season against the Los Angeles Rams on Sept. 10 at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Kickoff is set for 7:20 p.m. on ESPN.
The 6-foot-3, 210 pound receiver said he is excited to join the Raiders, but noted he has to catch up quickly and understand what Derek Carr is calling during a game.
“As soon as possible, I hope,” LaFell said on Monday. “Some of the formations are similar to what I did in the last two years in Cincinnati. Hopefully me lining up is not a problem. It’s just trying to get the terminology down and trying to get the code words down that they use so I won’t be out there looking lost when Derek is checking the play.”
LaFell, 31, was taken in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers. He played for Panthers for four seasons and the New England Patriots for two before joining Cincinnati.
He’s played 119 games with 85 starts, recording 394 receptions, 5,263 yards (13.4 avg.) and 29 touchdowns. He has appeared in six playoff games with made five starts, recording 20 receptions for 159 yards and two touchdowns.
LaFell watched from afar how well the Raiders played in the 2016 season and saw how talented they were.
“I feel like this team was a contender,” he said. “Before Derek got injured, there were one of the favorites in the league. To come play for coach (Jon) Gruden and play with Derek, Amari (Cooper), Jordy (Nelson), Seth (Roberts) ... young group of guys other than Jordy being like an old guy like me. It was just an opportunity that I feel like I can come in and I can play.”