Gonzalez still on books for Falcons

As the Atlanta Falcons prepare for free agency, there is unfinished business they need to resolve involving future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez.

The tight end, who completed his 17th and final season in 2013, has yet to file his retirement papers, according to NFLPA records. Essentially, Gonzalez would still count against the cap as the Falcons prepare for the new league year.

It's just a formality that is certain to be cleared up soon. The Falcons will save $7 million in cap space with the departure of Gonzalez, who would have carried a cap number of $8.75 million into 2014 had he decided to stick around one more year. His base salary would have been $4 million.

Gonzalez cannot go on the team's reserve/retired list until his paperwork is filed. The other option for the Falcons to get Gonzalez off the books is to release him. It might sound crude but, again, it's just a formality.

Not to mention Gonzalez has a $3 million roster bonus due this month, which is more incentive for the Falcons to get the business matter cleared up as soon as possible.

Gonzalez basically cleared up any doubt of a return when he signed on with CBS as an analyst for the 2014 season.

The Falcons can start negotiating with agents of players from other teams starting Saturday. The free-agent signing period begins next Tuesday after 4 p.m.

The salary cap was set at $133 million for the new league year. The $7 million saved with the subtraction of Gonzalez could go a long way for the Falcons as they intend to address offensive and defensive line needs as well as safety concerns.