The Atlanta Falcons suffered through another abysmal loss on Sunday, struggling through four turnovers and just one touchdown in a 27-13 loss to the Arizona Cardinals that for all intents and purposes closed the book on Atlanta making a miraculous playoff run.
Now stationed in third in the NFC South with a 2-5 record, the Falcons truly have a long road to hoe if they want to play past Week 17, as they still have games against Seattle, New Orleans, Green Bay, San Francisco, and Washington left on their schedule.
With the remainder of the 2013 season looking very bleak (the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says a 5-11 finish for the Dirty Birds is highly possible), a predominant question has arisen concerning this week’s trade deadline, which is at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 29th: should the Falcons trade future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez to a contender?
Will we see Gonzalez in a Chiefs uniform once again?
In case you have been living under a rock for the past five years, Gonzalez has been outstanding for Atlanta, reeling in a total of 364 receptions for 3,723 yards and 30 touchdowns as part of a series of Falcons’ squads that shook the NFC South and kept Atlanta competitive year in and year out. While Gonzo has continued making plays each Sunday this season (38 receptions for 395 yards and 3 TDs), the Falcons have seen a considerable drop off thanks to an embarrassingly weak offensive line and a banged up defense that has more holes in it than your typical piece of Swiss cheese.
With Atlanta’s playoff chances on life support, the front office has a choice: do they keep Gonzalez and allow the great tight end to finish out his illustrious career playing in a season that no one will remember, or do they send him elsewhere–most expect Kansas City–to have one last shot at winning a championship?
Like all personnel transactions, trading Gonzalez would have its advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a look at what getting rid of Gonzo would do to help the Falcons and what it would do to hinder them:
Why Trading Tony Gonzalez is a Good Idea: Gonzalez, now 37 years old, has already made it clear that he will not return in 2014, so getting anything for him would be good at this point. Trading Tony would also give the man who will soon have his own bust in Canton the opportunity to still live out his dream of winning the Super Bowl, something that Atlanta has failed to do during his time with the team (or any time before that, for that matter).
Tony’s departure would also allow for the remainder of this season to serve the purpose of allowing the younger receivers and tight ends to get some valuable playing time in the NFL, most notably 6-foot-8 rookie tight end Levine Toilolo, who has shown some promise in limited playing time. Gonzalez undoubtedly makes the Falcons’ offense much more powerful and dangerous, but what good does it do to keep a player that you know is done after this year on a squad that probably will not even hit the .500 mark?
Toilolo is expected to be the tight end of the future for the Falcons, so why not make the rest of 2013 a trial run for the rookie out of Stanford?
Why Trading Tony Gonzalez is a Bad Idea: Although Atlanta would have no problem moving Gonzalez, the return will be minimal–even a 6th round pick would probably be a push–for a player that will play eleven games at the most for his new team. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has had enough trouble this season thanks to shoddy offensive line play, a season-ending foot injury to Julio Jones, and nagging injuries for running back Steven Jackson and wide receiver Roddy White, so moving his only reliable target in 2013 may only transform a tough situation into something nearly unbearable for the former Boston College QB.
Then there is the issue with fan attendance for the remainder of the season, as such a move by Atlanta would be seen by most as ”waving the white flag” and for fans to just stay at home and keep a “wait until next year!” attitude. Falcons owner Arthur Blank certainly knows what’s he doing, and if he thinks moving #88 is going to cost his franchise a considerable amount of cash, you can bet he will advise general manager Thomas Dimitroff to keep his chips on his side of the table.
So, What’s the Right Call? The correct decision regarding this situation is not very clear because both sides of the argument have valid points. However, if I’m in Dimitroff’s shoes, I simply go to Gonzalez and ask what he wants to happen; if he is interested in a trade, I pursue such a move but only pull the trigger if Atlanta feels like the compensation is fair considering the situation.
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Gonzalez has seemed a bit non-committal on the prospect of leaving the Falcons, telling the AJC after Sunday’s loss “It’s up to them. If that’s what they want to do and that’s in the best interest of the team, then that’s up to them. It isn’t going to come from me. I’m not the one asking for a trade. I love Atlanta. I love playing with these guys.”
It is not clear at this point whether or not the Falcons brass are openly looking to move one of its most popular players, but what is clear is that the 2013 season that was deemed “Super Bowl or Bust” by so many has simply been nothing but a bust.
Gonzalez has been a playmaker for the Falcons ever since his arrival in 2009 (Photo by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
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