I became a Taylor Gabriel fan in 2016 when I first saw him play — at that time he was in his third NFL season, but his first with the Falcons, playing for offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. When I watch him play, I’m reminded of Desean Jackson because of his speed and ability to track the ball in the air.
Gabriel started his NFL career in 2014 as an undrafted free agent receiver with the Cleveland Browns. They released him at the end of his third training camp, and he was scooped up off the waiver wire by Atlanta. Roughly five months later, Gabriel caught three passes for 78 yards in the super bowl, finishing the year with 35 receptions, 579 yards and 6 TDs.
Taylor played one more season with the Falcons, who retained him with a Restricted Free Agent (RFA) tender, but he simply didn’t have the same kind of explosive and impactful season under OC Steve Sarkisian that he had enjoyed under Shanahan. While he had nearly the same number of receptions, his YPC fell from 16.5 to 11.5 while his TD total dropped from 6 to only one. His big plays (over 20 yards) went from eleven in 2016 to six in 2017.
Unsurprisingly, the Falcons let the small (5’7”, 168 lb) and speedy receiver go in free agency.
He went to Chicago, where he helped the Bears get to the playoffs at the end of the 2018 season by pretty much doubling his reception volume. That year, Gabriel caught 67 passes, but with Mitch Trubisky throwing the ball, his average tumbled to just 10.3 yards per reception.
Last season, Gabriel torched the Redskins with 6 receptions, 75 yards and three first half touchdowns, as the Redskins lost 31-15 at home in Week 3. Gabriel was knocked out of that game with a concussion, and ended up missing 7 games in 2019 due to two separate concussions. Previously, he had missed only 6 games in his first five seasons.
Victory Tuesday pic.twitter.com/DwajTqtAfQ— Taylor Gabriel (@TGdadon1) September 24, 2019
When you think of Taylor Gabriel, you think of speed. I was surprised to learn that he had a 4.4 40 time at his pro day. Our own Terry McLaurin ran a 4.35 at the Combine last year, and I had thought Gabriel was faster.
But do the Redskins need more speed at receiver? After all, in addition to McLaurin, the Redskins have Steven Sims returning as the slot receiver, and he’s another guy who turned in a 4.4 at his pro day, but somehow seems even faster on the field.
The Redskins already boast good speed at the wide receiver position, but do you know what’s better than having two really fast receivers in the NFL? Having three really fast receivers, especially when the offense boasts a big-armed quarterback who can toss the ball 50 yards downfield.
Thank U Chi-Town pic.twitter.com/cgYdaUIuzI— Taylor Gabriel (@TGdadon1) February 22, 2020
With a player like Gabriel, when Scary Terry needs a breather, the Redskins would have the ability to bring someone on the field who is just as terrifying — especially to a winded CB who was happy to see McLaurin go to the sideline.
Alternatively, the Redskins could go to the Formula One package with McLaurin, Gabriel and Sims all on the field together. Good luck finding a team with a set of defensive backs that could keep a lid on that amount of speed. The Redskins running backs and tight ends should have a field day with safeties having to protect their own end zone from multiple threats.
There’s no reason to expect Taylor Gabriel to be an expensive free agent. He cost the Bears $12m in cap space for two years (they ate a further $2m in dead cap). With the salaries for top-end receivers exploding of late, Gabriel could probably be signed for a contract in the range of 3 years, $22m. He’ll be 29 years old this season; if the Redskins could get two years of play at around $7m APY, that contribution at WR while the roster is rebuilt under the stewardship of Ron Rivera and Scott Turner could prove invaluable.
Will Miss The Fans At Solider Field LUV CHI pic.twitter.com/U9vW1gFmhV— Taylor Gabriel (@TGdadon1) February 22, 2020
The Redskins need to add some receiving talent, and have limited draft capital. Signing Taylor Gabriel would be a cost effective way to use free agency to enhance the offense, giving Scott Turner something special to work with as he establishes himself and the Redskins’ new offensive scheme and cements Dwayne Haskins as the unquestioned leader of the franchise.
As is true with all free agents who are cut loose from their teams at this time of year, Gabriel can negotiate with teams right away, can be signed at any time, and will not count against the team that signs him when compensatory picks are calculated.
Taylor Gabriel’s slogan?
“Just throw it”
Just throw it pic.twitter.com/2ySLjSKae4— Taylor Gabriel (@TGdadon1) August 20, 2019
Just throw it pic.twitter.com/TdenO4e4Bo— Taylor Gabriel (@TGdadon1) August 20, 2019
Just throw it pic.twitter.com/TtGFQbwYfH— Taylor Gabriel (@TGdadon1) August 20, 2019
Should the Redskins try to strike a deal to sign Taylor Gabriel this week during the scouting combine?
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