Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Taylor Gabriel rocketed onto the scene in 2016. If you recall, the Cleveland Browns passed him over for Andrew Hawkins. (Hawkins is now a 31 year old free agent.) The Falcons pounced on their opportunity and the rest is history.
In early March the Falcons placed a second round tender on Gabriel. That’d net him about $2.8 million in 2017. Unfortunately he hasn’t signed the tender yet. But don’t freak out yet, because there are several possibilities on the table, and no matter what, the Falcons come out ahead.
According to NFL Transactions, Falcons WR Taylor Gabriel didn't sign 2nd-round RFA tender yet. Deadline for RFA to sign offer sheet today.— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) April 21, 2017
Gabriel still could work out longer-term deal with Falcons or eventually sign 1-year, $2.746 million tender. Protected by injury waiver now— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) April 21, 2017
Gabriel was a participant in the first week of organized offseason workouts. He’s repeatedly expressed a desire to be a Falcon for life. So it doesn’t appear that he has a sincere interest in playing anywhere else.
“What does it all mean, James?!” Remember, this all goes back to Gabriel’s status as a restricted free agent. (At least three years of service plus at least six games with the Falcons.) Don’t worry, Gabriel is still a Falcon. From here, it turns into a good old-fashioned game of chicken. Gabriel just lost the ability to negotiate with other teams. In effect, the Falcons just lost their “right of first refusal.” If Gabriel doesn’t sign his tender by June 15th, the Falcons can reduce their tender to 110% of his 2016 salary. (His 2016 salary was $600k, so he’d make $660k in 2017 in this scenario.) Gabriel is only 26, so both parties are likely interested in working out a long-term deal. If I had to hazard a guess, they’re not on the same page yet, but they’re getting awfully close.