Russell Gage catch vs. 49ers
Atlanta Falcons NFC South

Report: Russell Gage to Sign with Division Rival

Losing players in NFL free agency is never fun. Seeing those players sign with division rivals makes it even worse.

That’s reportedly the reality for the Atlanta Falcons, as NFL Insider Ian Rapoport reports Gage is “expected” to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The details of Gage’s contract offer from the Buccaneers has yet to be disclosed. But if Gage’s deal is anything close to what wide receiver Christian Kirk received from the Jacksonville Jaguars on the first day of free agency, he will be paid handsomely. Adam Schefter of ESPN reported the Jaguars and Kirk agreed to a four-year, $84 million contract.

Both slot receivers, Gage and Kirk possess similar playing styles. They are also two of the first big contracts for wide receivers this free agency period and neither have recorded a 1,000-yard receiving season.

Gage, however, proved he could be a top wide receiver target in the absence of Calvin Ridley last season. Gage posted 66 catches, 770 yards and four touchdowns in 14 games during 2021. Over the final six games of the season, Gage averaged more than six catches and 83 yards per game.

During his four-year career, the former Falcons receiver has 193 receptions, 2,065 receiving yards and nine touchdowns.

In Tampa Bay, Gage will join a wide receiver group that already has Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. With Tom Brady returning as well, the Buccaneers will be aiming to win their second straight NFC South title and second Super Bowl in three seasons.

While the Falcons are losing Gage, they did re-sign kicker Younghoe Koo to a five-year extension Tuesday.

But without Gage, the Falcons no longer have their top three pass catchers from just two years ago — Ridley, Gage and Julio Jones — on their active roster.

Atlanta’s top receiver as of March 15 is Olamide Zaccheaus, who the team reportedly tendered on Tuesday.