Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez sent some waves through the Falcons fan base earlier this week as the 15-year veteran as been the model of consistency in the NFL, yet Gonzalez has made the decision that the 2012 season will be his last year of service in the league.
"I said that last year though, and the year before. But I really do believe this is it," Gonzalez said. "First of all, this is the first time my wife came to me and said, ‘You’re only going to play one more year, right?’"
While many pundits and prognosticators (including ones on this site) will point to the draft as the obvious recourse for replacing a legend, the legend they acquired was via trade. While the cheaper route would be to draft a young tight end based off potential, the Falcons are trying to win now. With the aggressive draft of Julio Jones and the giveaway of future draft picks, acquiring a tight end of their liking might not be possible.
The Green Bay Packers and Jermichael Finley have had issues at the negotiating table, and the money that the Falcons were going to pay Gonzalez could go right to Finley. Its an aggressive move, but can the Falcons afford to do anything but?
Another intriguing option is Dallas Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett, who in his four years as a Cowboy showed flashes of brilliance along with flashes of ineptitude. He's an impending free agent and could come into a veteran locker room ready to coach him up and provide leadership.
The Falcons are on the clock, as a legend prepares to leave the building in 12 months.