The Falcons may have a problem at tight end in 2020. Austin Hooper is going to the test the waters in free agency and the team has already publicly decried its likely inability to successfully negotiate a new deal with Hooper given his market value and their salary cap shenanigans. So it’s a fantastic time to take a trip down memory lane. And as we stroll, let’s focus in on some of the best single seasons by various tight ends that’ve played for the Falcons over the years. Ready? Set? Go!
Tony Gonzalez - 2009 (33 years old)
83 receptions, 61.9% catch rate, 867 receiving yards, 6 receiving touchdowns
This was Tony Gonzalez’s first season with the Falcons after the Chiefs foolishly traded him away for a second round draft pick. The Chiefs would use that second round draft pick on cornerback Javier Arenas, an underachiever out of Alabama that went on to play for the Falcons in 2014.
Gonzalez made 2009 a memorable season from the outset, exceeding 11,000 receiving yards on a Matt Ryan touchdown pass during Week 1. Gonzalez ultimately helped the Falcons finally achieve the impossible in 2009: two consecutive winning seasons.
Tony Gonzalez - 2012 (36 yrs old)
93 receptions, 75% catch rate, 930 receiving yards, 8 receiving touchdowns
This may be my personal favorite. Gonzalez kicked off 2012 with a game agains the Chiefs, the team that drafted him and employed him for 12 seasons. He helped the Falcons to a 13-3 regular season record and a playoff run that ended just shy of a Super Bowl berth with a thrilling, narrow loss to the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. That playoff run began with a 30-28 win over the Seahawks, it was Gonzalez’s first career playoff game. Gonzalez earned both Pro Bowl (third consecutive) and first-team All Pro honors in 2012.
Tony Gonzalez - 2013 (37 years old)
83 receptions, 68.6% catch rate, 859 receiving yards, 8 receiving touchdowns
This was Gonzalez’s final year with the Falcons. Interestingly, he almost didn’t play in 2013 after repeatedly expressing a desire to retire during the 2012 season. But how could Gonzalez have refused, knowing how close the Falcons came to winning it all in 2012? Instead of replicating their 2012 successes, the Falcons stumbled to a 4-12 record. It’s a real shame the Falcons had to send Gonzalez off like that, but that’s how in goes in professional sports. He did earn Pro Bowl honors for the fourth consecutive year, for what that’s worth.
Tony Gonzalez - 2011 (35 years old)
80 receptions, 69% catch rate, 875 receiving yards, 7 receiving yards
Gonzalez helped the Falcons to a 10-6 record and a #5 playoff seed. It was the first time in franchise history that the Falcons went to the playoffs in consecutive years. Sadly the Falcons scored all of 2 points during their brief playoff run, a “run” that consisted of a single 24-2 loss to the Giants. Gonzalez was named to his second consecutive Pro Bowl.
Austin Hooper - 2019 (25 years old)
75 receptions, 77.3 percent catch rate, 787 receiving yards, 6 touchdowns
Hooper is in line for a big pay day and his 2019 season made that happen. Hooper continued to be a favorite target of Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, racking up the second-most receptions in the Falcons lethal passing attack. 41 of his 75 receptions were first downs, behind on Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. Hooper earned his second consecutive Pro Bowl nod because George Kittle was busy getting ready for the Super Bowl. His contributions on offense didn’t help the Falcons overcome shaky play by an inconsistent defense but he was fun to watch nonetheless.
Alge Crumpler - 2005 (28 years old)
65 receptions, 55.1 percent catch rate, 877 receiving yards, 5 touchdowns
Crumpler came into this year with high expectations, riding high after being named to the Pro Bowl in both of the preceding two years. What’s more, rookie first rounder Roddy White gave Mike Vick yet another weapon on offense. Unfortunately the Falcons turned in a .500 campaign, somehow going 8-8 after starting 6-2. Alge certainly did his part, however, leading the team in receptions and receiving yards.
Jacob Tamme - 2015 (30 years old)
59 receptions, 72.8 percent catch rate, 780 receiving yards, 8 touchdowns
Tamme signed with the Falcons after his 3-year stint with the Broncos came to an end. We didn’t know it at the time, but it’d prove to be Tamme’s last full NFL season. The following season was his last in the NFL (and it was derailed by a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 8). Tamme helped the Falcons win their first 5 games before they went on a losing skid that resulted in an 8-8 record. Tamme’s contributions that season were a sight for sore eyes, given that the team was still trying to figure out how to partially replicate Tony Gonzalez’s production. (The preceding year they relied on Bear Pascoe and Levine Toilolo at tight end, a problem nobody wants to have.)
Junior Miller - 1980 (23 years old)
46 receptions, 584 receiving yards, 9 touchdowns
The Falcons used their first round draft pick to selected Miller in 1980. Lucky for them, he didn’t disappoint, earning a Pro Bowl nod after setting a Falcons rookie record for touchdown receptions. And if you recall, Miller had the rookie touchdown reception record for nearly 40 years until Calvin Ridley broke it in 2018 with 10 touchdowns. The Falcons finished first the NFC West that season with a 12-4 record and it was arguably Steve Bartkowski’s best seasons as a professional. Miller undoubtedly had a hand in all of that.
Which Falcons tight end had the greatest single season in franchise history?
This poll is closed
Tony Gonzalez - 2009
Tony Gonzalez - 2012
Tony Gonzalez - 2013
Tony Gonzalez - 2011
Austin Hooper - 2019
Alge Crumpler - 2005
Jacob Tamme - 2015
Junior Miller - 1980