First off, let me be clear. I am not comparing the benefits to the negatives. We all know what the benefits are. But not many recognize some of the negatives. I'm also NOT saying if one outweighs the other. It is only 4 games into the season. There's plenty of time to turn this all around. Some of you all may question my timing with this, being that he just had an awesome game last Sunday and he seems to be in full fledged HOF mode right now. But this is something that has been on my mind ever since he re-signed and it's not a full affront to him or his playing ability at all. This is about decisions that were made and how they could have possibly affected this team and got us to where we are at this point. At any rate, whether you agree with it or not, and whether or not it's speculation, it's something to ponder.
I'm sure everybody knows about the positives of getting your 1st-ballot hall of famer back in uniform for one more year. (You saw it on Sunday night) But here's the negatives of why the way in which the Falcons went about re-signing Tony Gonzalez may have hurt the team this year.
1. Even though Gonzalez is known for his work ethic, on and off the field, and his reputation for being in shape and ready, giving anyone a raise and allowing them to take two weeks off from training camp sends a BAD message to youngsters on the team and even other veterans. It's like showing favoritism to one of your kids. The others are undoubtedly gonna feel some way about it....no matter how good that one kid is and how bad the others know they have been. It doesn't matter. A youngster only wishes to have that kind of a rapport with his front office so he can get those kinds of perks. Hell, most veterans feel that same way. You effectively pitted your kids against one another at some level. Even though they love each other and we're all family, there's still something there that may be throwing us out of balance as a unit. And how are we gonna be on a team doing teamwork stuff and I don't 100% like or agree with my teammates and how they get treated better than I do? We're talking about NFL players here but this can happen anywhere! Y'all know how people at work can be sometimes... envious and jealous when they see someone get praised or promoted. How is that gonna work on a football team when everybody has to be in sync for things to go right? Could this affect the other players negatively? What about the Chemistry we need to build during training camp and preseason games with ALL of our players? What about the rust that will undoubtedly build up while you're away? I'm sure this can be fixed but why risk it in your last year? Why not go ALL OUT?! What if other players think they can get away with taking a couple weeks off in the future?! Did they ask ANY of these questions? I'm thinking the wide majority of people took it as... Whatever... He's Tony Gonzalez. All that other stuff doesn't matter. I'd break my left arm to get him back.
2. Like I said, it sends a bad message to veterans as well as youngsters on the team. JOHN ABRAHAM.... Our sack leader for the past 5 years. He accepted a garbage contract with less money just to stay in Atlanta and try to win a championship 2 years ago. Nevermind the fact he's getting old. He WAS our PASS RUSH. NO ONE ELSE could get to the QB as much as him. Situation on defense is nothing like on offense. Nothing against Tony Gonzalez... Who is indeed the greatest TE ever.... but if we don't have Tony Gonzalez... We STILL HAVE JULIO, RODDY, HD, Steven Jackson, Jacquizz Rodgers, and that other TE Coffman. The offense would still be good. But without Abraham, that defense was even worse than it already was. We spent a while wondering who would be our next Sack specialist. Luckily we got Umenyiora. It could've gone in another direction and left us in the same situation we were in at right tackle to start the year.
But they cut him knowing all of this. So, he already had a bogus contract that's not paying him what he's worth. He bust his butt for you and you cut him without giving him a chance to renegotiate? But you bring this other guy back and pay him 2 million dollars extra and then let him get 2 weeks off from training camp?! Abraham had every right in the world to blow Flowery Branch off the map if you ask me. Not to mention.... Other teammates on the team SEE and KNOW this. They know he got did wrong. But they'll just say "Football is a business" and move on. But they are seeing up close how Tony Gonzalez is reaping the benefits and how it could have hurt the team. A lot of people wanted Abraham back... but they didn't have the money at that point. Also, why would he really be interested in playing in an organization that he feels mistreated him but put someone else on a pedestal?
3. You gave him a RAISE. 2 million dollars. Now this is the one that's contributing mostly to us being 1-3 right now. Imagine if we didn't give him a raise and we kept that 2 million dollars worth of salary cap space..... We maybe wouldn't have cut our STARTING RIGHT TACKLE Tyson Clabo so we could have enough money to pay Matt Ryan. If we hadn't done that... we probably wouldn't have this MAJOR Offensive Line problem that we're stuck with. Matt Ryan would have more time in the pocket. Our offense would be doing better than it is right now. But NOOOO. The general manager said we gotta start letting some of these youngsters shine for once. That's why we cut Abraham. That's why we cut Clabo. That's a big part of why our team is hurting now. BUUUUUT....... instead of letting the youngsters shine at TE... we're gonna bring back an almost 40 year old to play one more year. Whatever happened to letting young guys ball out this year? Why can't we give Abraham another shot at the Super Bowl? He's coming CHEAP!!! Way cheaper than #88. Tell me the players didn't notice this either and I'll slap ya. This one caused the most damage. We cut the head off to spite the neck on this one. Now look at us.
Now I'm not saying #88 isn't great. I'm not saying he aint still balling. I'm not even gon say that the season is over yet. I'm just saying that if they had thought about this a little bit longer and harder before they made that decision, then we might not be in this 1-3 mess that we're currently in at the moment. Unfortunately, the attitudes and consequences brought on by this decision may be irreversible. Even though everybody respects Tony Gonzalez and wanted him back (I did too). That was a major price to pay to retrieve him.... I'm sure everybody wasn't exactly happy with the terms in which he came back... whether he's a good player or not. I saw some negative comments on Facebook, maybe the Falcoholic, and even heard a few on NFL network. I'm sure TG wonders as well. Because this IS his last year. And he's wondering right now if he wasted his time or not at 1-3. Some people actually say $7 million salary is enough to ease that pain. But is this REALLY about the money anymore? A question which could only inevitably lead back to the primary question....Why the 2 million dollar raise?!