The Atlanta Falcons can probably get tight end Tony Gonzalez to return if they promise him two things: more money and less offseason work.
Teammates believe that Gonzalez, who said last year that he was 95 percent sure he’d retire, will agree to come back if the Falcons show him the money and tell him he can take time off during training camp, according to Michael Silver of Yahoo Sports.
“He will come back if they pay him $7 million and he doesn’t have to do training camp,” one Falcons player told Silver.
A team source also told Silver, “If we offer him the money, he’ll most likely be back for one more. He’ll most likely be looking to miss training camp, though.”
A $7 million salary is completely reasonable for a player who is the top tight end on our list of this year’s best free agents. In fact, Gonzalez will probably have other teams offering him more money than that, although indications are that if Gonzalez is going to play at all in 2013, it’s going to be in Atlanta.
As for getting to miss training camp, the Falcons likely wouldn’t have a problem with that. Gonzalez always takes good care of himself and stays in great shape year-round, and he knows the Falcons’ offense and won’t need long to get back into rhythm when the season starts.
We won’t know until we hear it from Gonzalez himself whether he’s going to play in 2013. But the smart money is now on Gonzalez coming back for one more year.