Taylor Gabriel: 3 ideal free agency destinations for the WR
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Taylor Gabriel: 3 ideal free agency destinations for the WR

The Chicago Bears released wide receiver Taylor Gabriel on Friday. The 29-year-old signed a four-year, $26 million deal with the Bears in 2018, but was cut midway through the contact.

Gabriel thrived in his first season in Chicago, posting career highs in catches (67) and receiving yards (688). He battled through two concussions last season, however, and appeared in just nine contests, accumulating 29 catches for 353 yards and four TDs. Three of those scores came in one game.

With Taylor Gabriel on the open market, let’s dive into possible landing spots for the speedy wideout.

San Francisco 49ers

Taylor Gabriel enjoyed a strong 2016 season with the Atlanta Falcons. San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan served as the team’s offensive coordinator that year for the Falcons, who represented the NFC in Super Bowl 51. Gabriel caught 35 passes for 579 yards with a career-high six touchdowns. He also scored the lone rushing TD of his six-year career.

Could Shanahan and Gabriel reunite in San Francisco? Shanahan first discovered the undrafted receiver at his pro day in 2014. Shanahan, then the offensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns, convinced upper management to sign Gabriel.

Gabriel’s familiarity with Shanahan’s offense could give him the upper hand on other free agents. Furthermore, the 49ers won’t have to shell out top dollars to add Gabriel.

The 49ers are fully expected to release wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, who disappeared in the 49ers’ run to the Super Bowl. Goodwin was placed on injured reserve Dec. 10 with a knee injury, but was not involved in the offense (12 catches with one TD) even when healthy. Cutting Goodwin will save San Francisco $3.6 million in cap space.

With a need at receiver to compliment talented youngsters Deebo Samuel and Kendrick Bourne, the 49ers should look into adding Gabriel. Bringing in a veteran WR who possesses blazing speed—who can be had on the cheap in free agency—is definitely worthwhile for the NFC champions.

Green Bay Packers

It’s entirely possible that Gabriel could remain in the NFC North. The Green Bay Packers desperately need help at the receiver position behind superstar wideout Davante Adams.

Geronimo Allison was not able to make the leap many had hoped for last season. Meanwhile, Marquez Valdes-Scantling saw his playing time evaporate in 2019. Allen Lazard might be the only receiver (besides Adams) the Packers stick with in the long run.

Green Bay is likely to augment the receiving group via the draft, but could add veterans in free agency as well. After splurging in free agency last offseason, the Packers are not in the position to spend big bucks this spring. With limited resources, Gabriel could be the most plausible free-agent signee. Taylor Gabriel would provide the offense with a slot receiver who can make plays in the middle of the field.

The Packers won 13 games and reached the NFC title behind the strength of their defense. The passing offense—led by two-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers—was mediocre and requires improvements. Inking Gabriel to a contract could be the first step in repairing the passing attack.

Denver Broncos

The Denver Broncos must address the lack of speed in their receiving corps this offseason. In need of an explosive player, Gabriel could be a perfect fit for the new-look Broncos’ offense, which is quarterbacked by Drew Lock.

Gabriel can provide Lock with a vertical weapon. Courtland Sutton earned a Pro Bowl in his second NFL season in 2019 and proved to be the only reliable target in the passing game. Seeking to add reinforcements behind Sutton, Gabriel makes plenty of sense for the Broncos.

Denver will not have to break the bank to sign Gabriel. Pairing him next to Sutton could do wonders for Lock, who showed promise in his rookie campaign.

Regardless of where Taylor Gabriel signs, he must find a way to remain healthy to achieve a bounce-back season.