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Sunday, March 10, 2013
No camp? No problem for Tony Gonzalez

By Pat Yasinskas

Michael Silver reports the Atlanta Falcons are cautiously optimistic tight end Tony Gonzalez will return for another season.

I don’t think that part is anything new. I’ve had the feeling the Falcons have been thinking a Gonzalez return is likely since general manager Thomas Dimitroff told me a few days before the Super Bowl that the team was lobbying hard for the veteran to come back for one more season. I could tell just by listening to Dimitroff how serious he was about bringing Gonzalez back.

What is new in Silver’s report is that Gonzalez wants somewhere around $7 million for the season and to be able to sit out some or all of training camp. I don’t think the money is an issue. The Falcons have some cap room and can make that kind of contract fit.

Although some coaches might scoff at the idea of letting a player sit out most or all of training camp, Atlanta’s Mike Smith is a little more flexible than most. Training camps aren’t as long as they once were and Gonzalez already knows the offense and has great chemistry with quarterback Matt Ryan.

I don’t know that Smith would be willing to let Gonzalez miss training camp entirely. But I think Smith would be willing to put Gonzalez on a very light schedule for August.

The bottom line is the Falcons want Gonzalez back so much that I think they'll be willing to do whatever it takes to make his return happen.