Re-Signing Tony Gonzalez is Falcons’ Top Offseason PriorityBy Daniel J.
After another immensely successful, yet ultimately disappointing season, the Atlanta Falcons are expected to be among the cream of the crop of NFL teams again next season. With almost all their top players returning, the Falcons will likely field other Super Bowl contending team in 2013, but they may be without one of the key pieces to the championship puzzle, as tight end Tony Gonzalez is seriously considering retirement.
It’s really nothing new. Gonzalez has said he would likely retire at the end of the 2012 season as far back as the beginning of last year. However, the Falcons are reportedly doing everything they can to convince Gonzalez to stay and according to league sources, the team is making re-signing the future hall-of-famer its top offseason priority.
Although the Falcons are still involved in contract extension negotiations with their star quarterback Matt Ryan, they’ve turned most of their attention to Gonzalez for the time being, sources told ESPN.com. After Gonzalez started to show some indecision regarding his initial decision to retire, the Falcons have continued to put pressure on Gonzalez about returning for one more Super Bowl run.
As the organization continues to attempt to persuade Gonzalez, there is no official deadline for him to make a decision. The Falcons would like to get him to commit before he becomes a free agent on March 12 though, and as of this moment, they are no closer to a deal than they were during the regular season.
Gonzalez has been leaning towards retirement for the better part of a year, but has never flat out said 100% that he would call it quits, unlike Ray Lewis, who made it very clear that 2012 would be his last season in the NFL before the Ravens made their run to the Super Bowl title.
It’s much easier for Lewis to stick to that after going out on top, but Gonzalez will likely be tempted to come back, knowing full well the Falcons have at least one more good run in them with the talent they still have. He’s always said he wants nothing more than a championship, so if that’s true, he’ll likely return.
Another thing to consider is that his performance has not dipped that much, even at his age (37). Some guys would be more inclined to retire simply because they can’t play the game like they once did, but Gonzalez is still just as effective as a pass catcher as he ever was. Last season he posted phenomenal numbers once again, including 93 catches, 930 yards and eight touchdowns.
Of course, nothing’s official, but considering the Falcons are doing everything they can to get him back and considering that deep down Gonzalez wants that title, I would guess that we will see him as an Atlanta Falcon next season.
Atlanta is currently listed at 16/1 to win the 2013 Super Bowl, but if Gonzalez doesn’t sign, expect those chances to take a hit.