Future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez made clear on Monday his desire to be traded to a contender, saying everything but, “Trade me to a contender.”
Falcons G.M. Thomas Dimitroff has explained why none of his players were traded.
“We are confident in our roster and our football team,” Dimitroff told D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We are all aware that we have not gotten the results that we want so far, but I believe in our coaches and players.”
Conversely, trading Gonzalez easily could have been viewed by the players left behind as a sign that Dimitroff doesn’t believe in their ability to reverse a 2-5 start and battle for a playoff berth.
“We owe it to our owner, our fans, our coaches and our players to win as many games as possible, and we believe that we have the pieces to be a good football team,” Dimitroff said. “We know we have dug ourselves a hole, but together we can dig ourselves out and that is what we are focused on.”
Dimitroff also explained that, generally speaking, he doesn’t like to make in-season trades that involve players coming to the Falcons.
“As an organization we have three reasons why we do not believe in in-season trades,” Dimitroff said. “There is often times a reason why some players are available via trade in-season, and that does not always fit with our team-building philosophy.
“The second reason has to do with scheme-fit and the ability to pick up the system in time to contribute during that season. Often times, it can take a player a couple of weeks to get comfortable with the system and sometimes even longer. You would have to be completely confident that the player would be able to step in and play right away. Most of the time, that is not the case.
“The final piece in trades involves compensation, and that is something that we are always very mindful of.”
While Dimitroff didn’t completely rule out the possibility of making future in-season trades, his reasoning for not, for example, trading for a receiver to replace Julio Jones makes plenty of sense. Still, Gonzalez wanted out — and the Falcons held firm.
Apart from demonstrating faith in the players, the Falcons showed the locker room that a separate set of rules doesn’t apply to Gonzalez, who finagled the ability to skip out for a large chunk of training camp when his 95-percent certainty to retire dropped to zero.
(Note to other established veterans: If you act like the year before your final year will be your final year, you may score some key concessions for your final year.)
But Gonzalez forgot to ask for the one thing no one ever thought he’d need — a promise from Dimitroff that, if the Falcons are fading from contention in late October, they’ll trade Gonzalez to a contending team.
(Note to other established veterans: Include that request, too.)