Tony Gonzalez played for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1997-2008 and for the Atlanta Falcons from 2008-2013. It looked like Gonzalez may retire after the 2012 season, but the Falcons made it to the NFC Championship Game and he decided to come back for one more run at a Super Bowl that has eluded him his entire career. Gonzalez may be the best TE ever in the history of the NFL. He’s at least on a very short list for consideration. During his career, Gonzalez has had 1,325 receptions, 15,127 yards and 111 touchdowns. He has been to the Pro Bowl 14 times and has 10 All-Pro selections in his 17 years in the league.
The New England Patriots should try to get Gonzalez to come out of retirement for at least one season.
As I wrote on Jan. 23, the Patriots need to work on their receiving corps. In that article I stated my belief that the Patriots need to sign a free agent wide receiver who can help stretch the field. I still believe that to be true, but the Patriots could also benefit greatly from convincing Gonzalez to come out of retirement. I’ve written before that the Patriots need to sign another tight end. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels loves two tight end sets. When Rob Gronkowski was healthy and Aaron Hernandez was not in jail on murder charges it worked amazingly well. But then Hernandez went to jail and was cut by the Patriots in the offseason, and Gronkowski only played in eight games in 2013 due to lingering back and forearm issues and then tearing his ACL at the end of the season. Did McDaniels get away from the two tight end offense? No. Michael Hoomanawanui (played opposite Gronkowski when Gronkowski was healthy) and Matthew Mulligan played tight end so the two tight end offense could continue. Hoomanawani is an incredible blocking tight end, but as a pass catcher? Not so much. The window is closing on Tom Brady and it would be an injustice to not surround him with more pass catching talent.
In addition to being a great pass catcher, Gonzalez can block. Both Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson had their best rushing seasons when Gonzalez was in Kansas City playing tight end and acting as a sixth offensive lineman.
I know Gonzalez has a lot of miles on him, but the Patriots would only need him for a season or two. It’s obvious Gonzalez would love to play in the Super Bowl and ultimately win a ring, and playing in New England would certainly give him the chance to achieve that.
Apparently Gonzalez consistently confessed during Atlanta’s abysmal 4-12 2013 season that he was uncertain about retirement. Seth Wickersham followed Gonzalez during the 2013 season which was supposed to be his final season. Wickersham wrote a profile for ESPN The Magazine and in that article it states:
“During a dinner with quarterback Matt Ryan, Gonzalez said, ‘Maybe, if the team is hot in November, 9-2 or something, I could come back for the last two months.'”
Is it likely Gonzalez comes out of retirement to play an entire season with a new team like the Patriots? No, but Gonzalez could potentially get to the Super Bowl with the Patriots and he could be exactly what the Patriots and Brady need. The Patriots need to at least try.