ATLANTA - DECEMBER 06: Tony Gonzalez #88 of the Atlanta Falcons warms up before facing the Philadelphia Eagles at Georgia Dome on December 6, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Tony Gonzalez will reportedly play football again in 2013. After all but saying he would retire following the 2012-13 season, the future Hall of Fame tight end is apparently ready to inform the Atlanta Falcons that he would like to return to the team next season.
Jim Corbett of USA Today is reporting that Gonzalez will be back next season, and will play for the Falcons if the team can meet certain conditions. In 2012 Gonzalez caught 93 passes for 930 yards and eight touchdowns, which was amazing considering he played the season at 36 years old. But it was clear watching him play last season that he can still get it done between the lines.
Gonzalez was named first-team All-Pro for the sixth time in his career last season and is a 13-time Pro Bowler. He also holds league records for receptions (1,242) and yards (14,268) by a tight end. The Cal product had a base salary of $3.9 million in 2012 and also got a $1 million roster bonus. He’s currently an unrestricted free agent but we’re hearing he only wants to return if it’s with the Falcons.
If Gonzalez does want to return, it would be best for him and the Falcons if he can figure out what he wants as soon as possible. Free agency opens at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday and Atlanta has a hole at tight end that needs to be filled. Gonzalez will likely be the guy who fills that spot now, but at what price?
Reports suggest that he wants $7 million to play next season and would want to sit out training camp. I doubt the Falcons would fully meet either of those requirements, but some kind of deal could probably worked out. Maybe Gonzalez would accept a less arduous camp and a little less in salary to get a deal done.
We’ll keep you updated if we hear more.