Could Tony Gonzalez Return for One More Season?

Chris Trapasso@ChrisTrapassoAnalyst IFebruary 20, 2013

Jan 13, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez (88) reacts after winning the NFC divisional playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks at the Georgia Dome. Falcons won 30-28. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout the 2012 season, Tony Gonzalez continually stated he was "95 percent sure" he'd retire at season's end, but now, that near-certainty may have morphed into a coin flip. 

Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff believes the odds of a return are better than Gonzalez has let on (per Pro Football Talk's Michael David Smith): "Not stating that he would be lying to anyone, but I don't believe the 95 percent. I want to believe it's a lot closer to 50/50, to be honest with you, and we've had discussions."

Hmmm. 

Interesting. 

So, could Gonzo, the best tight end in the history of the NFL (the stats don't lie, people), return for one more season? 

Technically, that answer is pretty obvious. 

Sure, Gonzalez could return to the Falcons, and it sounds like the team would welcome him back with open arms—a simple one-year deal certainly could be worked out, as Gonzalez is an impending free agent. 

But from a production standpoint, is a return feasible? 

ProFootballFocus (subscription required) ranked Gonzalez as the 17th-best overall tight end in football in 2012, but he received the highest passing-game grade of any tight end. 

In the playoffs, after reeling in 93 passes and eight touchdowns during what is always a grueling 16-game regular season, the 36-year-old Gonzalez didn't show signs of slowing down. 

He totaled 14 receptions for 129 yards and two touchdowns on 15 targets against the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers.

Gonzalez has averaged a whopping 121.5 targets per year during his Falcons career—he's clearly a favorite pass-catching option for Matt Ryan

PFF rated Atlanta as the most effective passing team in 2012, and with the steady Roddy White and emerging superstar Julio Jones on opposite boundaries, in theory, Gonzalez would remain in an atmosphere conducive to immense success. 

He has stayed in fantastic shape during his career and doesn't have to worry about the flare-up of a nagging injury. The future Hall of Fame tight end hasn't missed a game since the 2005 season. 

The Falcons were a few plays away from the Super Bowl last season, so Gonzalez could give it one more go as a key offensive piece in Atlanta.

Really, the only thing missing from his illustrious resume is a ring.

 

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