After last year's bitter disappointment, Gonzalez would be crazy not to re-sign for one final year with the Falcons, and the latest reports suggest he's of the same mind.
Sources close to Gonzalez, an unrestricted free agent, said he is contemplating a return at the right price, provided he can miss some or all of training camp this summer. 'He will come back if they pay him $7 million and he doesn't have to do training camp,' said one Falcons player familiar with Gonzalez's thinking.
General manager Thomas Dimitroff has made no bones about the fact that he wants Gonzo back with the Falcons for the 2013 season. Even before Super Bowl XLVII, he spoke to ESPN.com, via Pat Yasinskas, saying:
A guy who is 36 (years old) catching 100-plus balls (including the postseason), it just doesn't seem like it's time for him to move on...Suffice it to say that it's not going to be an easy decision for him one way or another because he knows that he still has fuel in the tank and it's very legitimate fuel in the tank.
Will Gonzalez return for one final season in 2013?
It seems clear from statements like this that Dimitroff isn't going to balk at Gonzalez's desired terms.
The Falcons have already made some aggressive moves to improve their roster for the 2013 season. Dimitroff cut John Abraham, Michael Turner and Dunta Robinson in one fell swoop, accounting for $18.65 million in gross cap savings (h/t Yahoo! Sports' Brian McIntyre).
The team has plenty of cap space to give Gonzalez the money he desires, and the Falcons don't need him to attend training camp because he and Matt Ryan already have plenty of chemistry.
All he needs to do is show up a month or so before the regular season, and he'll be able to step in and produce at a high level, just as he's done for the past 16 years.
There are rumors out there that Steven Jackson is favored to land with the Falcons this season (h/t the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Jim Thomas).
Will the Falcons be NFC favorites to get to Super Bowl XLVIII with Gonzo and Jackson in the fold?
With such an imposing running back behind Ryan forcing defenses to respect the team's running game far more than they did last year, it's not inconceivable to expect the Falcons' offense to be even more dangerous in 2013 than it was in 2012.
And given the fact that Atlanta was just a play or two from representing the NFC in the Super Bowl, it's not a stretch to think that the team has an opportunity to finally get to the big game in 2013 after seasons of "almosts" and "what-ifs".
Gonzalez must return for one final shot at glory in 2013. He owes it to himself, if not his teammates, to put his body and mind through the rigors of one final season to give himself a chance to realize his greatest goal.
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