GM hoping for Tony Gonzalez return

Updated: February 15, 2013, 8:57 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff remains hopeful that tight end Tony Gonzalez will return next season rather than retire.

Gonzalez said late in the season he was 95 percent sure he would retire. He even moved that figure up to 97 percent after the Falcons won a playoff game against Seattle. After losing the NFC Championship Game to San Francisco, Gonzalez said he still intended to retire.

Dimitroff, who has been lobbying hard for Gonzalez to return for an 18th season, thinks Gonzalez's chances of being back are a lot better than the veteran is letting on.

"Tony has done so much for us on and off the field, and I don't believe, not stating that he would be lying to anyone, but I don't believe the 95 percent," Dimitroff said on "Pro Football Talk" on NBC Sports Network. "I want to believe it's a lot closer to 50-50, to be honest with you, and we've had discussions.

"Obviously (Falcons coach) Mike Smith has had discussions with him. We're all in a good place. Ultimately it's up to Tony to decide if he wants to come back and potentially catch 100 balls again. I think it's one of those situations that Tony was so effective for us down the stretch, and I can't imagine that his appetite wasn't sort of whet from his contributions in the playoffs."

During Super Bowl week in New Orleans, Dimitroff said there was no firm timetable for Gonzalez to make a decision.

"We don't have a deadline at all," Dimitroff said. "But let's face it that it's important for us to know sooner rather than later because we have to move forward on all our decision-making."

A 13-time Pro Bowler who will turn 38 years old on Feb. 27, Gonzalez holds NFL records for touchdown receptions (107) and reception yards (14,268) by a tight end. He had 93 catches for 930 yards and eight touchdowns last season.

Information from ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas was used in this report.

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