Might Falcons wideout Taylor Gabriel follow in Patriots postseason hero Chris Hogan’s 2016 footsteps as a restricted free agent who sought greener pastures?
As far as Gabriel is concerned, he is content to stay in Atlanta.
“Of course, I want to be a Falcon forever,” Gabriel recently told ESPN.com. “Just the camaraderie and the group, from Dan Quinn to the owner. And everyone has bought into what we have here. Yes, I want to be a Falcon forever.”
Although an extension for cornerback Desmond Trufant is the team’s top priority, general manager Thomas Dimitroff said last week that Gabriel is another player deserving of a new contract.
“It’s going to be positive for him,” Dimitroff said of Gabriel. “Yes, we want him back as well.”
Atlanta has until March 9 to extend a contract tender designed to discourage the other 31 teams from signing Gabriel to an offer sheet.
The most likely tender is the second-round level worth just under $3 million. Under that scenario, any team planning to sign Gabriel would have to surrender a second-round pick to the Falcons.
Gabriel was the waiver pickup of the year, recording a league-best 139.9 passer rating when targeted last season. The speedster broke free for a game-breaking play of 40 or more yards in eight of 13 regular-season games.
“I feel like I have something that a lot of people don’t have,” Gabriel explained during Super Bowl week, “and that’s the ability to change directions while running full speed.”
Gabriel is certainly talented enough to lure potential poachers next month. Between the likely second-round price tag and the organization’s commitment to maintaining the offensive nucleus, though, he’s unlikely to leave Atlanta.