Lovie Smith was the head coach of the Chicago Bears when they selected Gabe Carimi with their first round pick in 2011. While Carimi struggled during his first two seasons with the Bears, the connection seemed like it could work in Carimi’s favor when Smith was named the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach in January.
Instead, Carimi was released by the Buccaneers last week. He didn’t remain on the street long as he quickly signed with the Atlanta Falcons on Monday.
In an interview with Alex Marvez and Bill Polian on Sirius XM NFL Radio, Carimi said it did come as a bit of a jolt that the Buccaneers elected to part ways with him.
“I definitely was a little surprised. I thought that I was going to stay there,” Carimi said. “…I respect them for releasing me as soon as they did. They could have kept me around a little bit longer and they just knew I wasn’t a part of their future plans so I appreciate them doing me a favor and releasing me early so I could get a jump-start on where I can pick up.”
Carimi noted he had keep the place he’d been renting in the Tampa area with the expectation he’d remain with the team. Carimi added he had a workout lined up with the Cincinnati Bengals before the combine and had other meetings scheduled for after the combine before electing to sign with the Falcons.
Carimi felt a comfort level with the Falcons as Mike Tice is a member of the staff as Atlanta’s offensive line coach. Tice and Carimi were also together in Chicago with the Bears.
“I definitely know what Mike Tice looks for in a player having been with him in Chicago for two years, so it’s good to be reunited with him,” Carimi said.
Carimi said last season was the first time he’s felt healthy since suffering a dislocated knee cap as a rookie in Chicago.
“This last, previous year was the first year I actually had my strength back in my knee and now I actually feel comfortable and in shape and ready to go and just move on from all this,” Carimi said.
Carimi appeared in 14 games with the Buccaneers last season while making three starts. Tampa Bay traded a sixth round draft pick to Chicago to acquire Carimi before last season.