You wouldn’t think that a team that has Roddy White and Julio Jones on the roster would have their main offseason focus be on convincing an almost 37-year-old tight end that he needs to return for at least one more year.
Yet that is the case with the Atlanta Falcons.
Tony Gonzalez not only led the Falcons in receptions this year, but also was second in TD’s and added yet another page to already first ballot hall of fame resume.
Forget his resume for right now though.
Even at 37, Tony Gonzalez is crucial to the Atlanta Falcons offense.
Now, obviously Matt Ryan is a very capable quarterback throwing the ball, especially to his two star wide receivers, both of which have consistently put up monster numbers.
However, Matt Ryan and the Falcons would desperately miss Tony Gonzalez if he decides not to return.
The reason being, the Falcons had very little consistent run game this year. Their success was mostly predicated on the pass; a pass game in which Gonzalez, arguably, could’ve been the most crucial.
While Jones and White may have had better numbers overall, Gonzalez was Matt Ryan’s security blanket, if you will. While Atlanta’s two stud receivers had 50 less receptions than targets, Gonzalez had only 29 less receptions than targets.
Also, 65 of Gonzo’s receptions went for first downs. When the big play wasn’t there, Gonzalez was Ryan’s go-to option. Which allowed White and Jones to be able to go for the big play more often, because Ryan could almost always check down to Gonzalez when he needed to.
All of this isn’t even counting the importance his leadership and experience brought to the Falcons. Not to mention Gonzalez is an underrated run blocker on a team that struggled to find their run game most for stretches of the season.
Trust me, I had Michael Turner on my fantasy team, so I know this to be true.
Overall, Gonzalez has earned the right to do whatever he decides to do. The man is the best TE in history and has nothing left to prove to anyone.
With that being said, the man is still playing at an extremely high level and the Falcons desperately need him to come back if they are thinking of making any sort of Super Bowl run.
Follow Cole Stevenson on twitter: @Cole_Stevenson