General manager Thomas Dimitroff told ESPN.com on Thursday that he is lobbying the tight end to return for one more season.
“A guy who is 36 catching 100-plus balls [including the postseason], it just doesn’t seem like it’s time for him to move on," Dimitroff said while visiting the Super Bowl media center.
When Dimitroff offered that up without much prompting, I immediately asked if he had delivered that message to Gonzalez.
“I definitely already have," Dimitroff said.
Gonzalez, 36, said several times late in the season he was 95 percent sure he would retire.
But I think it’s significant that Dimitroff and the Falcons are making a hard pitch.
“Tony’s a man and he’s got to make his own decision," Dimitroff said. “Suffice it to say that it’s not going to be an easy decision for him one way or another because he knows that he still has fuel in the tank and it’s very legitimate fuel in the tank."
Dimitroff is right about the quality of the fuel. Gonzalez's decision to come back for one more season could significantly fuel Atlanta's offense, as well. If he returns, the octane stays at a high level. If he retires, it drops significantly because it's going to be hard to find a tight end of that quality in the draft or free agency.
In fact, if Gonzalez retires, I think the Falcons might have to make major changes to their passing game. They might have to de-emphasize the tight end and put more of a load on the slot receiver and the running backs. I don’t think that’s something the Falcons really want to do.
That’s why Dimitroff and the Falcons are trying to talk Gonzalez into one more year.