NFL Trade Deadline 2013: Falcons Keep Tony Gonzalez

Kevin C. Cox

As anticipated, the future Hall of Fame tight end stays in Atlanta.

There was a ton of buzz around Tony Gonzalez being traded out of Atlanta, given the lost year and the feel-good narrative around his return to the Chiefs. The 2013 trade deadline is gone and Gonzalez is still here, proving that rumors and feel-good narratives are, as always, complete horse hockey.

If Gonzalez had really pushed to go, the team would have respected that enough to make a hard push to move him. If the team was blown away by a quality offer, they may well have moved him. It's likely neither of those things happened, so Gonzo will play out his last year with good friends in Atlanta, albeit in a situation no player wants to ride off into the sunset in.

It's unfortunate. I understand the attitude that Gonzalez should have the opportunity to play for a contender. It's human and deeply admirable for fans to want the best for Gonzalez, a terrific dude and a terrific player who has given a lot to the franchise while he's been here. You feel bad It was also wishful thinking from the very beginning.

Why wasn't Gonzalez traded? Three guesses.

  1. The team wasn't motivated to move him. Gonzalez chose not to make life difficult for the Falcons. The Falcons don't want to signal that they're giving up on their season, take away one of Matt Ryan's few remaining weapons and deal with an empty Georgia Dome every home game. A late round pick isn't enough motivation to ship him out of town.
  2. Gonzalez legitimately didn't want to go. Always possible. I'm sure he wouldn't have minded a trade to a contender if push came to shove, but it's possible he sat down with the brain trust for the team and said he would rather remain in Atlanta unless they got a killer offer.
  3. They didn't get a killer offer. Would you ship Tony Gonzalez out of town, making this year even more hellish, in exchange for a sixth-round pick? I sure as hell wouldn't.
Ultimately, no matter how great a player is, he doesn't sign a contract with advance knowledge of a team's fortunes. Players have come back before to win a Super Bowl and won one, but most take one last shot and fall short. That's the nature of the beast, and while I certainly wish this season had turned out differently for everyone involved, the odds were always 1/32 that the Falcons would hoist a Super Bowl trophy and send Gonzalez out a champion. He's a very intelligent guy. He knew that, and while none of us could have predicted this, he was coming back for the opportunity, not any kind of a guarantee.

We can (and will!) debate whether this was the smart move, the right move for Tony and whether it's going to make 2013 any more bearable than it might have been otherwise. One thing was clear from the very beginning: It was never the likely move.

Your thoughts?

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