How do you fill the production void left by the retirement of the greatest tight end to ever play in the history of the NFL?
You can't, so you don't.
Rather than look for another tight end to average the 82 catches a season Tony Gonzalez did during his five years in Atlanta, the Falcons opted to take an alternate route and scrap the F-type role completely.
For 2014, the tight end in the Falcons' offense was a Y-type, meaning the position's primary role was to block — undoubtedly another step at trying to get tougher up front.
So how did that decision work out? Let's find out.
The Falcons drafted Levine Toilolo in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft out of Stanford.
What stood out about the tight end was the fact he stood 6'8''. It seemed like it would be make sense to throw jump balls his way once the Falcons got down in the red zone to take advantage of his height.
But that didn't quite materialize as Toilolo caught just 11 passes for 55 yards and two touchdowns in his rookie season as a backup and 31 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns this season in his first full-time stint as a starter.
Toilolo struggled mightily run blocking and was just serviceable when asked to pass block.
It was clear Matt Ryan didn't trust Toilolo as much as he did Gonzalez. Then again, not many players have the catch radius nor the hands that Gonzalez had.
And really, Toilolo never gave Ryan a reason to trust him. He was called upon infrequently in the passing game (54 targets) but didn't make the most of those opportunities. To give you an idea, Toilolo had six drops through the first six games of the season.
I'll give Toilolo credit: He's certainly a team player. In Week 7 when the Falcons were hit by a rash of injuries to starting offensive linemen, Toilolo stepped in at right tackle and did what he could. At the very least, that counts for something.
Bear Pascoe was signed to a one-year deal in the offseason after he wasn't re-signed by his former team, the New York Giants.
Pascoe, a blocking specialist, didn't offer much in the receiving game. He finished with just two receptions for three yards, but he did have a nice, toe-tapping touchdown.
On the other side, his whiff on a block nearly got Ryan killed in Week 15.
Pascoe played just 146 snaps on offense, with his highest snap total in a single game (20) coming in Week 3.
Atlanta had plenty of time to find and groom Gonzalez's heir apparent, yet chose not to. Neglecting to obtain a player ready to resume that role came back to bite the Falcons in 2014. Now, the Falcons head into the offseason with tight end being a position of dire need.