For Falcons fans, a dream scenario would be for the 2014 Dirty Birds to get off to a hot start knowing that their sure-fire, first ballot Hall of Fame tight end is waiting to suit up. What better way to get into the heads of rival Panthers, Saints, and Buccaneers than to hold a division lead only to release the greatest tight end ever to play the game?
On paper, this is exactly the off-season gossip to excite a fan base coming off a disastrous 2013 campaign. Unfortunately, professional football in the year 2014 is more business than it is pure sport. Falcons GM Thomas Dmitroff has more than enough football and financial decisions in front of him already; yet here we present one more.
Tony Gonzalez has already filed paperwork with the league office to announce his official retirement leaving the Falcons the decision to either cut Gonzalez or attempt to work out a trade for the legendary pass catcher. The possibility of any NFL team giving up more than an 8th round draft pick for the likely retired tight end seems a long shot at best (lest I remind my fine readers there are but 7 rounds in the draft).
Do we chalk this latest news up to "something ado about nothing"? That would be my best educated guess. The 2014 Falcons have already began to address short and long term financial issues - releasing defensive back Asante Samuel and linebacker Stephen Nicholas. Speculation abounds that these will certainly not be the last "name" players to be financial and/or cap casualties. With major holes on both the offensive and defensive lines coupled with the necessity to lock up Julio Jones to a long term deal, the Falcons simply have no capacity to allocate seven figures for the "possibility" of bringing back number 88 for a stretch run.
Although the hope of once again seeing Tony G. suit up once again is an intriguing and exciting possibility, it unfortunately seems to be more of a pipe dream than "lead pipe lock" in today's financially driven NFL. The recent news that Tony Gonzalez has joined the team at CBS Sports makes his return even less likely moving forward.
But let us true Dirty Birds keep the faith. In the words of the great poet and philosopher, Mr. MC Hammer, "Too legit. Too legit to quit."