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Joining Bears 'a no-brainer' for Gabriel

Posted Mar 15, 2018

Free-agent acquisition Taylor Gabriel was eager to join the Bears after seeing what first-year head coach Matt Nagy had accomplished as Chiefs offensive coordinator.

Bears first-year head coach Matt Nagy made a very positive first impression on one of the team's key free-agent acquisitions.

"Smooth dude, man. I like his swag a little bit," receiver Taylor Gabriel said Thursday during his introductory news conference at Halas Hall.

"It's nice. It felt like I knew him for a long time, not just meeting him for the first time. I feel like we're going to gel together and create a lot of things and create a lot of mismatches, so I'm excited."

Gabriel, 27, is especially enthused about playing in an offense that Nagy brings with him to Chicago from Kansas City, where he served as Chiefs quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator the past five seasons. Last year the Chiefs boasted the NFL's leading passer in Alex Smith with a 104.7 rating and top rusher in Kareem Hunt with 1,327 yards.

Asked what appealed to Gabriel most about the Bears in free agency, he said: "It was just Nagy's offense, just his creativity and the things that he did when he was with the Chiefs. With Tyreek Hill and the things that he did with him to move him around and get him open, it was a no-brainer for me."

Last season Gabriel frequently spoke with his friend and former Abilene Christian teammate, Chiefs running back Charcandrick West, about Kansas City's offense.

"He would talk about it all the time and how he loved it, the different schemes and just kind of how [Nagy] was just a doctor at creating an offense and getting people open," Gabriel said. "If you go on YouTube, you see different things they did and how Tyreek Hill got open and how he made those explosive plays."

Gabriel hopes to fill a similar role with the Bears. He arrives in Chicago after spending his first four NFL seasons with the Browns (2014-15) and Falcons (2015-16). The speedy 5-8, 165-pounder has played in 58 games with 13 starts, catching 132 passes for 1,819 yards and eight touchdowns and rushing for 110 yards and 1 TD on 16 carries.

Gabriel caught six touchdown passes in helping the Falcons reach the Super Bowl in 2016. Last year he played in all 16 games with four starts, catching 33 passes for 378 yards and one TD and rushing for 49 yards on eight carries.

Asked what Gabriel will bring to the Bears, he said: "Just explosiveness; being able to turn a screen into a touchdown, being able to take the top off a defense, just being able to create matchup problems. Let's say Allen Robinson is out there and they want to double team him and I'm on the backside man-to-man, it's just being able to exploit that and giving [the quarterback] another option to take advantage of."

Gabriel, who signed a four-year contract with the Bears, was described by general manager Ryan Pace Thursday as "very athletic, sudden, just a guy that can generate big plays, an exciting player."

Gabriel is eager to begin working with quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. The two chatted briefly after last season's opener between the Bears and Falcons at Soldier Field.

"He just seemed like a very confident guy, very confident in himself and the things that he's doing," Gabriel said. "And I looked up a few of his highlights on YouTube as well and the guy can sling it.

"After I signed, he texted me that he's ready to roll and ready to rock. It's just going back and forth and trying to feel him out, see what type of guy he is, outside of that one time meeting him after the game. It's really just jelling and meshing with him and all working as one, going forward and getting here as soon as possible so we can get on the same page."