Taylor Gabriel

Bears Season in Review: Taylor Gabriel

Bears Season in Review: Taylor Gabriel

Aside from wide receiver Allen Robinson, it's a real struggle to find any silver lining in the Bears' 2019 passing game. Quarterback Mitch Trubisky regressed, second-year wideout Anthony Miller took a while to get going, and there was almost no production (literally) from any of the team's tight ends. But veteran pass-catcher Taylor Gabriel at least offered a few promising moments in an otherwise letdown of a year.

Gabriel finished fourth on the Bears in receptions (29), yards (353) and second in touchdown catches (4). His numbers would've been much better had he stayed healthy; he appeared in only nine games.

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His highlight moment from 2019 came in Week 3 against the Redskins when he caught six passes for 75 yards and three touchdowns. It was a performance that appeared to spark an otherwise dormant passing attack. That wouldn't be the case, however, as the struggles continued throughout the season sans a few productive games from Trubisky.

Gabriel's future with the Bears is on shaky ground. Chicago can save $4.5 million against the salary cap if they part ways with him this offseason, and with a long list of needs and not a lot of money to take care of them, every dollar counts. Gabriel's average production combined with the presence of youngsters like Miller, Riley Ridley and Javon Wims suggests we've seen the last of Turbo in Chicago.

If his time with the Bears is in fact over, his signing will be viewed largely as a bust. Ryan Pace added Gabriel as a free agent in 2018 (four years, $26 million) with the goal that he'd add the kind of outside speed presence Matt Nagy's offense requires. Instead, Gabriel totaled just 96 catches for 1,041 yards (10.8 yards per catch) and six scores in 25 games. 

Here's to hoping Pace makes some better investments this offseason. 

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Four Bears Ryan Pace can cut to free up 2020 salary cap space

Four Bears Ryan Pace can cut to free up 2020 salary cap space

The Bears have a lot of work to do this offseason. Help is needed along the offensive line, there's a void at safety and a starting-quality quarterback is expected to be added to the depth chart.

Unfortunately, if the Bears want to fill those needs in free agency, general manager Ryan Pace will have to make some difficult decisions on the future of several veterans. Currently, in the bottom-five of salary-cap space in the league, Chicago won't have the spending power needed unless multiple cuts are made.

Here are four players who Chicago can move on from and free up cap space to spend on the open market.

OLB Leonard Floyd

Floyd is due $13.2 million in 2020, a cap figure that ranks third-highest on the team next season. He hasn't played up to that price tag and would cost the Bears no dead money if they rescind his fifth-year option. Floyd has just 11.5 sacks over the last three seasons combined, numbers that are more in line with a backup pass-rusher than a highly-paid game-changer.

WR Taylor Gabriel

Gabriel has been a solid receiver for the Bears when healthy, but Anthony Miller's emergence and youngsters Riley Ridley and Javon Wims deserve more playing time in 2020. Moving on from Gabriel will save Chicago $4.5 million; it's a logical move that Pace should make rather easily.

CB Prince Amukamara

Amukamara, like Gabriel, has been a very solid starter for the Bears, but he'll be 31 years old next season and will soon be on the decline. He has just one interception in his three seasons in Chicago; his lack of production doesn't warrant a $10 million commitment against the cap. The Bears will save $9 million in life-after-Amukamara.

TE Ben Braunecker

Braunecker doesn't have a big paycheck coming to him in 2020 ($1.6 million), but his dead-cap figure is just $150,000. It's a quick $1.5 million in savings, and while Braunecker has been a solid player on special teams for the Bears over the last few seasons, every dollar counts in an offseason with such high-priced needs.

If the Bears release Floyd, Gabriel, Amukamara, and Braunecker, they'll have roughly $27 million in additional cap space. It's safe to say that money can be invested more wisely on the open market this offseason than on the four players currently due to receive it in 2020.

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Bears injury report: Hicks full participant but remains questionable for Sunday

Bears injury report: Hicks full participant but remains questionable for Sunday

The Bears released their final injury report Friday leading up to Sunday’s matchup against Matt Nagy’s former mentor Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs.

With Taylor Gabriel (concussion) and Bobby Massie (ankle) not playing this Sunday at Soldier Field, the only variables left in the Bears lineup are cornerback Prince Amukamara (hamstring) and defensive tackle Akiem Hicks (elbow). Amukamara was a limited participant in Friday’s practice. Hicks was able to be a full participant. Bilal Nichols (knee) was also a limited participant. 

Amukamara suffered a hamstring injury after playing the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving. He was absent during the Bears win against the Dallas Cowboys and split game time with Kevin Toliver against Green Bay, with Toliver taking over completely during the third quarter.

After two months away, Hicks was able to make his return to Bears at Lambeau Field against the Packers, despite his elbow not being 100% healed. Hicks had been noticeably absent from the injured list this week until Friday, leading some to speculate that the Bears want him to rest since the team is out of playoff contention. 

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