Bereft of Tony Gonzalez, the Falcons are acknowledging reality and moving on from Gonzo's "move" role in the offense, according to Mike Smith.
Mike Smith also confirmed ATL eliminated "F" spot (move TE) from offense. Will go in-line TE only. 3-wide base with Julio, Roddy, Harry.— Adam Levitan (@adamlevitan) May 12, 2014
Gonzalez was used as a "move" tight end at times, which is to say he was lined up out wide whenever the situation called for it. The kind of versatility that kind of tight end gives you is important, and offenses can use it to get truly favorable matchups, i.e., Gonzalez on a linebacker. Not every team has one, but the teams that do tend to make creative use of a player who can sow confusion pre-snap.
The Falcons will head into 2014 with Levine Toilolo, Bear Pascoe and a scrap heap veteran acquisition or UDFA type manning the position. Toilolo could be a hell of a player—his height, decent wheels and blocking ability coupled with decent hands make him a strong traditional starting tight end in the NFL—but he's not going to move around the formation. Teams know precisely what they're getting into with him as a traditional in-line tight end, and even more so with a pure blocker like Pascoe.
So Toilolo will be, at best, the fourth target in the passing game in 2014. In that role and as a red zone option he could certainly thrive, but the Falcons will be rolling three wide and all three of Roddy, Julio and HD should receive more looks as a result. Julio, if healthy, could be headed for a monstrous season. Douglas goes back to his role as third receiver in this offense, albeit with more targets likely heading his way than in pre-2013 seasons.
We'll see how this works out, but now I'm willing to bet that the Falcons will draft a new receiver or tight end fairly high