Taylor Gabriel

Falcons To Place Second-Round Tender On Taylor Gabriel

The Falcons will apply a $2.81MM second-round tender to restricted free agent wide receiver Taylor Gabriel, reports Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. Doing so will entitle Atlanta to a team’s second-round pick if that club signs Gabriel to an offer sheet and the Falcons don’t match it. Gabriel told McClure he’d like to be a “Falcon forever,” though, and the two sides will be able to negotiate a long-term contract if they want.

Taylor Gabriel

The speedy Gabriel just finished his first season in Atlanta, which claimed him off waivers after the Browns jettisoned him leading up to Week 1. That proved to an excellent move for the Falcons, with whom Gabriel averaged a lofty 16.5 yards per catch on 35 grabs and scored seven touchdowns (six receiving, one rushing) in 13 regular-season games. The 26-year-old then added another nine catches for 171 yards in the playoffs for the NFC champions.

Since entering the NFL in as an undrafted free agent in 2014, the 5-foot-8, 167-pound Gabriel has amassed 99 catches, 1,441 yards (14.2 YPC) and eight scores scores in 42 games.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC South Notes: Bucs, Falcons, Panthers

The Buccaneers and impending free agent wide receiver Vincent Jackson have discussed a potential return, but the 34-year-old could retire, writes Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. “We did have conversations with Vincent,” general manager Jason Licht said Wednesday. “I have the utmost respect for him. Everybody in the organization does. In my mind, in head coach Dirk [Koetter’s] mind, in the owners’ minds, he’ll be a Buc for life. So whatever happens happens, but we’ll always want Vincent to be around the organization.”

Jackson has been with the Buccaneers since 2012, and he started 16 games in each of his first three seasons as a member of the club, but he has endured back-to-back knee injury-shortened campaigns. The six-time 1,000-yard man has combined for just 15 appearances since 2015.

Regardless of whether the Buccaneers re-sign Jackson, they’re going to target “playmakers” this offseason, Licht revealed. Entering free agency, only three teams have more cap space than the Bucs.

More from the NFC South:

  • Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff said wide receiver Taylor Gabriel and guard Ben Garland will be tendered as RFAs (Twitter link via Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com). He did not specify what level, however. Gabriel was the far bigger contributor of the two last year, when he averaged 16.5 yards per catch on 35 receptions and combined for seven touchdowns through the air and on the ground. Garland appeared in all 16 of the Falcons’ regular-season games, but he didn’t start any.
  • Dimitroff also announced that the Falcons will let defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux become an unrestricted free agent after 12 years together, D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. Conversely, the Falcons are trying to re-sign fullback Patrick DiMarco (Twitter link). Babineaux, 35, has totaled 185 appearances, 133 starts, 27 sacks and 10 forced fumbles in Atlanta, which selected him in the second round of the 2005 draft. He’s coming off the eighth 16-game season of his career, in which he picked up six starts and 22 tackles. DiMarco, a four-year Falcon, has three 16-appearance seasons in a row under his belt. He made eight starts in 2016.
  • Panthers GM Dave Gettleman told reporters on Wednesday that tackle Michael Oher is still in the league’s concussion protocol. This means the Panthers could be in the market for a starting left tackle. Oher has been dealing with a brain injury since September and only played in three games last year as a result. The eight-year veteran is under contract through 2019.
  • Reserve defensive end Darryl Tapp made it clear Wednesday that he wants to re-sign with the Saints, relays Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com. Tapp’s agent and the Saints have engaged in discussions about a new deal. The 32-year-old journeyman just finished his first season in New Orleans, where he started in two of 16 appearances.
  • As of last month, the Buccaneers hadn’t held contract talks with soon-to-be free agent running back Jacquizz Rodgers. However, the team would “love to have” him back, Licht stated (via Kevin Patra of NFL.com). Rodgers, 27, put up 560 yards on 129 rushes (4.3 per carry) and scored two touchdowns last season.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

FA Notes: Cowboys, Williams, Church, Gabriel

The free agent period opens in less than one month, but at least front office staff isn’t enthralled by the prospect of adding players from the 2017 open market. “It’s a brutal free agent class,” an AFC executive tells Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. “You’ve got to hope some guys get cut who can fill a role at a decent price. We’re more interested in seeing who gets released than where these free agents sign.” While this year’s crop of players may not feature the depth of other free agent classes, there is still some intriguing talent at the top of the market, as exhibited in the latest edition of PFR’s Free Agent Power Rankings.

  • NFL front offices are more willing than ever to employ the franchise tag, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link), who notes that the franchise tender allows clubs to retain elite-level talent without worrying about large signing bonuses. Those bonuses become prorated onto teams’ salary caps, making it difficult to release players down the road, while the franchise tag — while expensive — only ties a club to a player for a single season. PFR’s Zach Links examined candidates for the 2017 franchise tag earlier today.
  • The Cowboys coaching staff is “much higher” on free agent Terrance Williams than the rest of the league, according to Todd Archer of ESPN.com, who notes Dallas’ decision-makers respect Williams’ consistency and availability. Cowboys CEO Stephen Jones has already expressed an interest in re-signing Williams, who finished the 2016 campaign with 44 receptions for 594 yards and four touchdowns, but Archer believes another club with more financial wiggle room will likely swoop in and steal Williams away from Dallas.
  • Pending free agent safety Barry Church sounds open to giving the Cowboys some sort of hometown discount, but like most players reaching the open market for the first time, Church wants to capitalize on his next contract. “It’s definitely a business decision, but … the Cowboys … were the team that gave me that gave me the opportunity coming out of the draft, being undrafted,” Church told SiriusXM NFL Radio. “Everybody else kind of passed up on me. But it’s definitely a business decision.” Church, 29, managed two interceptions and four passes defensed in 12 games with Dallas last season, and now joins a free agent safety class that includes Eric Berry and Tony Jefferson.
  • The Falcons will likely place a second-round restricted free agent tender on wide receiver Taylor Gabriel, and a first-round offer isn’t out of the question, writes Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. The second-round tender should be worth roughly $2.8MM in 2017, while a first-round tender will come in around $4MM. Using a high tender would dissuade a club like the 49ers, which now employs former Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, from stealing Gabriel. In his first season with the Falcons, the 25-year-old Gabriel posted 35 receptions for 579 yards and six scores.

Sunday NFL Transactions: NFC South

Listed below are the Sunday roster moves for the four NFC South teams. Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline yesterday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters, claiming players off waivers or signing guys who clear waivers. Those transactions for the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are noted below.

Additionally, as of 12:00pm CT today, teams can begin constructing their 10-man practice squads. You can check out our glossary entry on practice squads to brush up on those changes, as well as all the other guidelines that govern the 10-man units, whose players practice with the team but aren’t eligible to suit up on Sundays.

Here are Sunday’s NFC South transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day. All links go to Twitter unless otherwise noted:

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers

New Orleans Saints

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Browns Down To 53

The Browns have officially cut down to a 53-man roster, according to a team announcement.

The team’s cuts include receivers Taylor Gabriel and Marlon Moore. Undrafted out of Abilene Christian in 2014, the 5-foot-8, 176-pound Gabriel appeared in 29 of a possible 32 regular-season games with the Browns and started four. He amassed 64 receptions for 862 yards and a touchdown during that time, with most of those numbers coming as a rookie. Gabriel caught 36 passes on 72 targets and averaged a prolific 17.1 yards per reception in his first year, but that figure fell to a paltry 8.6 on his 28 grabs in 2015.

Moore, a six-year veteran, previously saw action with the Dolphins and 49ers before joining the Browns last season. He pulled in only seven receptions in 14 games in Cleveland.

The full list is below.

Released:

Waived:

Minor Moves: Browns, Jets, Raiders

We’ve already taken a look today at some minor moves from around the NFL. Let’s take a look at some more transactions from the AFC…

  • The Browns have signed receiver Anthony Armstrong, reports ProFootballTalk.com (via Twitter). The 31-year-old has 54 catches for 986 yards and five touchdowns over 34 career games.
  • Running back Jourdan Brooks has signed with the Browns, announced agent Scott Bergman (via Twitter). Brooks spent last season with the Bengals.
  • The Browns also announced the signings (on Twitter) of receiver Taylor Gabriel, offensive lineman Randall Harris, defensive lineman Jacobbi McDaniel, defensive back Robert Nelson and tight end James Oboh.
  • The Browns announced that they have waived running back Jamaine Cook, receivers Josh Cooper and Tori Gurley, offensive lineman Anthony Dima, fullback Chris Pressley, tight end Andre Smith and defensive lineman Elhadji Ndiaye.
  • The Jets have signed linebacker A.J. Edds and offensive lineman Markus Zusevics, reports Randy Lange on NewYorkJets.com. To make room on the roster, the team cut receiver Dwight Jones and offensive lineman Jacolby Ashworth.
  • The Raiders have signed linebacker Bojay Filimoeatu and cornerback Jansen Watson, tweets Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun. The team added wideout Greg Little earlier today.
  • The Raiders also waived receiver D.J. Coles and cornerbacks Johnny Adams and Frank Beltre, reports Jerry McDonald of the Oakland Tribune (via Twitter).
  • The Texans made an assortment of moves (via Aaron Wilson’s Twitter): they added receiver Lacoltan Bester and defensive tackle Julius Warmsley, cut defensive lineman Tyrone Ezell and receivers Nathan Slaughter and Andy Cruse, and waived injured offensive tackle Chris Martin.
  • The Dolphins added former North Dakota State quarterback Brock Jensen, the team announced on Twitter. Miami also inked linebacker Chris McCain.