There's been plenty of speculation about Tony Gonzalez lately.
Some say he will stay. Some say he's done. Some say Dave is a vodka-chugging cyborg. All that said, it appears Gonzalez won't return for a 17th campaign.
He hasn't made it official, but the writing is undoubtedly on the wall. I'm sure most of you are ready to forget the 49ers loss that will live on in infamy, but absent Gonzalez next year, we're going to need a different third receiving option.
After a combined 33 targets in [the 49ers] game, the trio of Roddy White, Jones and Gonzalez took their season total to 446 (including playoffs), 66.9% of Ryan’s targeted passes. If Tony Gonzalez does turn that 95% retirement chance into 100% the Falcons will need to find a reliable third option to take some of those targets.
There are obvious internal options. Some combination of Michael Palmer and Harry Douglas might get it done. But that's not a scenario I'm super comfortable with - if you are, then more power to you.
Another possibility is finding a "replacement" in the draft or free agency. Drafting a tight end in the early rounds wouldn't surprise many. Still, you find yourself on shaky ground when you rely on a rookie to replace a Hall of Famer. Free agents don't always come cheap, and maybe we'd hate to spend the money, but it may be the best option. Admittedly, some combination of all of the above would likely work.