Why The Atlanta Falcons Made The Right Call By Keeping Tony Gonzalez
Proponents of a Tony Gonzalez trade took a very reasonable position.
Sitting three games below .500, the Atlanta Falcons’ prospects for a turnaround are limited, largely because of injuries that have ravaged a roster that already had depth issues and a daunting schedule, featuring games against the Panthers (4-3), Seahawks (7-1), Saints (6-1), Packers (5-2) and 49ers (6-2) down the stretch.
In addition, Atlanta’s inconsistent play along the offensive line and its leaky defense don’t do much to inspire hope, since the Falcons currently rank last in the league in rushing and near the bottom of the league in third-down conversions allowed and turnover margin.
Meanwhile, the Kansas City Chiefs—the team that drafted Gonzalez in 1997—are 8-0 with the Peyton Manning-led Denver Broncos right on their tails at 7-1. While the Chiefs boast one of the league’s best defenses, they will likely have to win a shootout at some point to get where they want to be.
Another pair of sure hands like Gonzalez’s would certainly give that offense one of the additional weapons it needs.
Hollywood couldn’t have written a better script.
Kansas City could bring back a player who was once the face of its franchise, while the Falcons could secure an extra draft pick to go toward infusing some more talent along their offensive or defensive line.
Nevertheless, the trade deadline came and went on Tuesday, and 37-year old Tony Gonzalez, who put off retirement to chase the Super Bowl victory that has eluded him for over 15 years, remained a Falcon.
Much to the chagrin of those who pushed for a Gonzalez trade to Kansas City (or some other “contender”), the Falcons got this one right.
Sure, Atlanta lobbied for Gonzalez to return in the offseason after he stated he was 95 percent sure that 2012 would be his last season, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Most other teams would have done the same after coming as close as the Falcons did last season.
However, Atlanta’s lobbying shouldn’t be confused with coercion. The Falcons did not and could not force Gonzalez to come back this season. That decision was his.
The contract Gonzalez signed upon his return guarantees him $7 million for his 17th year in the league. He also was allowed to stay in California with his family for a good chunk of training camp.
Do the Falcons really “owe” Gonzalez any more accommodation?