Buccaneer QB Josh Freeman Could Have Had Tony Gonzalez for His Security Blanket

Tom EdringtonSenior Writer IOctober 7, 2012

Tony Gonzalez was unstoppable against the Redskins.
Tony Gonzalez was unstoppable against the Redskins.Patrick Smith/Getty Images

On February 27, 2009, Buccaneer General Manager Mark Dominik gave up the team's second round draft choice to the Cleveland Browns and made Kellen Winslow Jr. the highest paid tight end in the NFL.

A little more than two months later, on April 23, the Atlanta Falcons gave up a second rounder in 2010 to the Kansas City Chiefs for all-world tight end Tony Gonzalez.

Now there's something to think about.

The reason the Falcons are 5-0 for the first time in their history is the 2012 start by quarterback Matt Ryan. And if you watched the Falcons beat the Redskins on Sunday, you'll know that Ryan leans heavily on the man that Fox analyst John Lynch referred to as Ryan's "security blanket." That would be Tony Gonzalez.

Ryan got off to a shaky start against the 'Skins but steadied himself by continually finding Gonzalez open for key completions.

By the time the "Dirty Birds" took a 24-17 win, Ryan threw the ball 52 times and Gonzalez was once again his main man. The Lynch-described "security blanket" caught 13 balls for 123 yards and a touchdown.

Think about it.

How different would the Bucs be had Dominik gone for Gonzalez instead of Winslow?

If anyone deserved to be the highest paid tight end in the league, it was Gonzalez—a sure first-ballot Hall of Famer. Instead, the Bucs took Winslow, a sure first-ballot selection for the "Turd Hall of Fame."

Winslow is out of a job, probably looking for a Vegas disc-jockey gig while Gonzalez is helping make the Falcons the cream of the crop in the NFC South and one of the remaining undefeated teams in the National Football League.

Look at Ryan's receivers—Roddy White and Julio Jones; all-world pass catchers. But Gonzalez is his bridge over troubled waters, if you will.

Therein lies one of Freeman's problems and it's not his fault.

He has no security blanket. It could have been Gonzalez, instead he was stuck with Winslow.

Freeman still doesn't have a go-to tight end. Dallas Clark and Luke Stocker are basically missing in action.

Gonzalez is everywhere.

That's simply one to think about it. I thought about it while watching Ryan find Gonzalez again and again on his way to another fourth-quarter win.