Head coach Matt Nagy expects Gabriel to stretch the defense vertically, Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-TImes reports.
Nagy plans to use Gabriel in a "zebra" role, which is primarily a slot receiver who'll also be put in motion to create mismatches. Gabriel has had two seasons with at least 16.5 yards per reception during his four years in the league, though he's yet to catch more than 36 passes in a season. He'll be in an offense that promises to have a fast pace while consistently attacking downfield. Although he's unlikely to catch a big number of passes, his big-play ability makes him an upside fantasy option to target in the latter rounds of drafts.
Gabriel is in line to sign with the Bears, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports.
The Bears are wasting no time in free agency, with adding weapons for young quarterback Mitchell Trubisky obviously the team's top priority. Along with Gabriel, a 5-foot-8 speedster with a degree of big-play ability, the team is also set up to add wideout Allen Robinson and tight end Trey Burton. Gabriel, who caught 33 passes for 378 yards and a touchdown in 16 games for the Falcons this past season, further bolsters a receiving corps that also features the likes of Josh Bellamy, Cameron Meredith and Kevin White, in addition to Robinson.
A major component to the Falcons' late-season run the previous year, Gabriel struggled to gain any traction in 2017 and ultimately finished the year with nine consecutive games (including playoffs) of 20 or fewer receiving yards. The Falcons could look to 2015 fourth-round pick Justin Hardy in the No. 3 receiver role, but they'd probably prefer to add a veteran or early draft pick for the job. Meanwhile, Gabriel may have to settle for the opportunity to compete for a similar role elsewhere. He's one of the fastest wideouts in the league, but also is one of the smallest at just 5-8, 165 pounds.
Gabriel finishes the season with 33 receptions for 378 yards and one touchdown, and while that only represented two fewer catches than last season, he recorded 201 fewer yards and five fewer touchdowns than in 2016. He'll be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and it's certainly possible he'll look to latch on with a team that isn't as stacked as the Falcons at wide receiver.
Gabriel (hamstring) practiced fully Thursday and is "ready to go" for Saturday's wild-card game against the Rams, Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com reports.
Aside from his early departure Week 17, Gabriel hovered between 40 and 65 percent of the offensive snaps in most games during the 2017 campaign. Because he played third banana to Julio Jones (ankle/ribs) and Mohamed Sanu throughout, Gabriel managed multiple catches in 10 of 16 games this season. Of those six with one or fewer, though, four of them occurred during the final five contests, meaning he may have a difficult time getting in on the act against the Rams' 13th-ranked pass defense.
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|