Russell Gage is heading to Tampa Bay, per a report by NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
The Falcons drafted Gage with the 196th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. That same year Gage entered a Falcons wide receiver room that included - at the time - Mohamed Sanu, Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley (who was the Falcons first round pick in 2018). With Sanu traded in 2019 and Jones traded last offseason, Ridley and Gage climbed their way up the receiving pecking order quickly. However, when they were set to be the new duo at the top, things changed.
Ridley only played in five games last season and Gage became WR1 for majority of said season, sharing much of the pass game workload with rookie tight end Kyle Pitts and running back/receiver hybrid Cordarrelle Patterson.
The last two years were a big opportunity for Gage, who's rookie contract ended with the 2021 season. Gage accumulated 1,500-plus receiving yards through the last two seasons with eight touchdowns.
Hitting the free agency market for the first time this offseason, Gage won't be leaving the NFC South just yet as he reportedly joins the Buccaneers. With Tom Brady coming out of retirement, Gage will be a nice fit for a position group that already has Chris Godwin and Mike Evans.
As for where this leaves the Falcons? It's tough to think about where this position group once was when Gage entered it verses what it is now as he departs. With Gage leaving in free agency and Ridley suspended for the 2022 season, that leaves Frank Darby and Olamide Zaccheaus (who the Falcons reportedly tendered) as the only receivers left who caught a pass in 2021.