When Tony Gonzalez said there was a 95% chance he was going to retire at the end of last season, we all knew that 5% would make him think long and hard. Ultimately, Gonzalez sided with the 5%, and decided to return to the Atlanta Falcons in 2013. He says he feels like he could play another few years, but the safe bet is that this one will be his last.
I never really took the retirement talk seriously. Gonzalez just didn’t come off as a guy who was ready to be done playing football. This seemed even more apparent after the Falcons finally won a playoff game during his tenure. Gonzalez waited his entire 16-year career for that elusive playoff win, and I just couldn’t see how one victory would be enough for him.
One playoff victory is the equivalent of wetting your whistle. It’s great, but it doesn’t really mean you’ve accomplished anything. The small taste of success that Gonzalez experienced in January, had to lead to his decision to come back for another year.
So now that he has a new deal in place and it’s official that he’ll return, what does it mean for the Falcons?
Gonzalez’s return doesn’t necessarily put Atlanta over the top in the NFC, but it will allow them to maintain their position near the top. If the Falcons had lost Gonzalez, they would have taken step back offensively. Keeping him will ensure there’s no drop off in the team’s production through the air. Gonzalez doesn’t put the Falcons over the top, he simply keeps them near it. Without him, the Falcons are just not as good of a team.
Now, with the addition of Steven Jackson, you could argue that the Atlanta offense is in better overall position than they were a year ago. Dropping Michael Turner and adding Jackson is an upgrade, and with all the other parts of the offense intact, the Falcons could even top their performances from 2012.
However, we wouldn’t be saying that without Gonzalez on the roster. He’s the glue, he’s the safety valve, he holds it all together for the Atlanta offense. His presence on the field opens things up for everyone else, and he makes Atlanta what they are on offense.
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