Updated: Falcons sign Gonzalez to one-year contract extension

101128 Atlanta - Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith celebrates on the sidelines with tight end Tony Gonzalez after he caught a Matt Ryan pass for a touchdown to give the Falcons a 10-3 lead over the Green Bay Packers in the final seconds of the 2nd quarter at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010.   Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

101128 Atlanta - Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith celebrates on the sidelines with tight end Tony Gonzalez after he caught a Matt Ryan pass for a touchdown to give the Falcons a 10-3 lead over the Green Bay Packers in the final seconds of the 2nd quarter at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Tony Gonzalez isn’t playing like he’s nearing the end of his Hall of Fame career.

Now, he’ll be in a Falcons uniform for at least one more season.

The Falcons signed the 15-year veteran to a one-year, $7 million contract extension Sunday, hours before the regular-season finale against the Buccaneers. The tight end, named to his 12th Pro Bowl last week, was due to be a free agent. Gonzalez made $5.75 million this season, the final of a five-year deal he signed with the Chiefs before being traded to the Falcons in 2009.

Gonzalez is second on the NFL’s all-time receptions list with 1,148. He trails only Jerry Rice, who was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010 after a 1,549-reception career. He is 11th in league history with 13,330 receiving yards, one of only 13 players to eclipse the 13,000-yard mark.

Gonzalez holds nearly every record for tight ends, including most career receiving yards, most career receptions, most receptions in a single season, most touchdown catches, most 100-yard games and most 1,000-yard seasons.

He entered Sunday’s game third in the league in receptions (79) and fourth in receiving yards (867) among tight ends. He also has seven touchdowns. Gonzalez has caught at least 60 passes in 13 straight seasons.

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said the team has been working to re-sign Gonzalez for much of the season.

“With Tony, it was something we were working diligently on to try to secure a deal with him,” Dimitroff told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We wanted him back here. We think he is an integral part of our offense as well as his leadership role. It was very important to us to get this deal done.”

Dimitroff said both the team and Gonzalez were looking for a one-year deal and they will consider the future on a “year-by-year” basis.

The early signing gives the Falcons one less roster move to make in the upcoming offseason. The team now has 19 players due to become free agents including key veterans defensive end John Abraham and center Todd McClure.

“This wasn’t about which free agent was the most important to secure,” Dimitroff said. “It’s a good start. It makes things a lot easier to see where we are going moving forward in trying to get the rest of our deals done. … It helps us gauge where we are in the rest of our financial situation.”

Other players playing the last year of their contracts are linebacker Curtis Lofton, cornerback Brent Grimes, defensive back Thomas DeCoud, wide receiver Harry Douglas, defensive end Kroy Biermann, quarterback Chris Redman, return man Eric Weems, running back Jason Snelling, linebacker Mike Peterson, center Brett Romberg, offensive lineman Kirk Chambers, tight end Michael Palmer, long snapper Joe Zelenka, tight end Reggie Kelly, defensive tackle Vance Walker, defensive back Kelvin Hayden and defensive back James Sanders.

The Falcons will get some salary cap relief as they are unlikely to re-sign all the pending free agents. The league cap is expected to rise slightly. This season, the Falcons used 98.6 percent of the $123.3 million salary cap, the third highest percentage in the NFL. They had $1.6 million in cap room. Only the Giants ($1.5 million) and Steelers ($1.01 million) had less room.

Gonzalez, who will turn 36 in February, was acquired from the Chiefs, where he spent the first 12 seasons. He was the 13th overall pick out of California in 1997. In three seasons with the Falcons, Gonzalez has 19 touchdowns, the fourth most by a tight end during that span. His 232 receptions are second by a tight end, trailing only the Cowboys’ Jason Witten (260).

–Chris Vivlamore, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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153 comments Add your comment

Tony Montana

January 1st, 2012
1:06 pm

anderson

January 1st, 2012
1:07 pm

Great news!! TG is still playing at a high level.

Tony Montana

January 1st, 2012
1:08 pm

Good to hear. Tony is still playing at a very high level.

anderson

January 1st, 2012
1:09 pm

Congrats T Montana!! You got me by a mere minute.

Tony Montana

January 1st, 2012
1:10 pm

Falcons only hope this year is for Drew Brees to somehow get hurt. I dont wish that on anyone but thats the truth.

Casey

January 1st, 2012
1:17 pm

Great news! He’s still got a lot left!!
It looks like this game against the Bucs isn’t going to matter. Let’s rest the starters.

JSS

January 1st, 2012
1:36 pm

They better had resigned him, there’s nothing behind him… And don’t come crying Palmer, he’ll be an UFA on team that is up against the cap ceiling with bigger needs. Dimitroff is suppose to be a great evaluator. Time for you to come up some real talent!

Steve-O

January 1st, 2012
1:50 pm

JSS,

You think Dimitroff hasn’t drafted any talent? What about Ryan, Lofton, Weatherspoon, Julio Jones, Corey Peters, William Moore, and a couple of others? You criticize just to criticize. Take a look at New England’s last 4 years draft history. With the exception of the 2 tight ends, there hasn’t been much there…it’s no coincidence that those drafts were after Dimitroff left. Get a life and post something reasonable and informed.

jerseyfalcon

January 1st, 2012
1:51 pm

He can still play and the only reason he wants one more year is to reach 100 touchdowns..now if only if ATL will draft a good te so tony can teach him the tricks for a year….or maybe have Tony stay on as a position coach.

Joe

January 1st, 2012
1:52 pm

Good news on Tony.

HELL NO don’t rest our starters vs. Tampa. Had we beaten New Orleans, maybe. But no. We need a win going into the playoff. Not a loss to possibly the worst team in football.

steve brown

January 1st, 2012
1:53 pm

Both Gonzalez and Turner are still effective possession players but neither instills much fear as a down-field threat. I think this is a real problem looking ahead. Neither one has much “burner” left in the tank.

Joe

January 1st, 2012
1:54 pm

It makes no sense to rest your starters after coming off an humiliating loss last week. I want every ounce out of our players. The only rest they’d get is if they get knocked out of the postseason.

I’m just hoping that the Packers win today or the Rams pull off the upset. Even as a Falcon fan, I DO NOT want to go back to New Orleans. Come on Packers. Or Rams. If the Packers beat the Lions, that makes the Bucs game meaningful. Win that one, we face the winner of the NYG/Dallas game.

Preferrably Dallas.

Michael M.

January 1st, 2012
1:55 pm

Means he will play for another year so that’s good at tight end position. Now if they can find some people on D to slow down these pass happy teams .

Panthers playing the Saints pretty tough out there today, if this is a sign of next year, the whole NFC South division probably have some of the best teams out on the football field in 2012.

SeenThisBFalcon

January 1st, 2012
1:57 pm

gREAT jOB BUT WE NEED A sUPERBOWL WIN THIS YEAR FOLKS…

Tony Montana

January 1st, 2012
1:58 pm

I see they have the Katrina officiating crew in NO again today. All I gotta say is unbelievable.

SeenThisBFalcon

January 1st, 2012
1:59 pm

C’MON GREEN BAY

Falcon56

January 1st, 2012
1:59 pm

What you guys think, maybe time to get rid of Van Gorter and get a real NFL Defense Coordinator?

Michael M.

January 1st, 2012
2:00 pm

Get rid of that Bum he won’t and don’t know what a blitz is…………………….

Michael M.

January 1st, 2012
2:02 pm

If Atlanta don’t do nothing in the playoffs its time to get rid of somebody ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

Tony Montana

January 1st, 2012
2:02 pm

I’m a firm believer that Van Gordhead is in over his Head.

Falcon56

January 1st, 2012
2:03 pm

Tony Montana, absolutely agree 100%. How the heck can you miss that many calls? Benson must be paying these idiots!

Michael M.

January 1st, 2012
2:04 pm

I saw something somewhere was talking about if Atlanta fired Coach Smith they would open the door and make mularkey the Head Coach ………I like to fell out of the chair ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

Falcon56

January 1st, 2012
2:06 pm

Ok pizza time, yall put your orders in I’m out.

Michael M.

January 1st, 2012
2:09 pm

Barbecue for the game here………..lol

Tony Montana

January 1st, 2012
2:09 pm

Maybe they should think about making pass interference a reviewable play,,, i mean you have an official standing right there and he cant see that…. judgement call my a$$,,

Falcon56

January 1st, 2012
2:10 pm

I’d give Mike Smith 2 more years to get to the SB and make a change if it didn’t happen, but it sure in the heck would not be Murlarkey!

Falcon56

January 1st, 2012
2:11 pm

BBQ sounds good too MM!

Michael M.

January 1st, 2012
2:12 pm

They just missed a pass interference call against the Saints while ago on a touchdown score for the Panthers…………another lucky break for the Saints I suppose ……………………………

Joe

January 1st, 2012
2:12 pm

I think Van Gorder needs to go. I’d rather have Mularkey back than Van Gorder. Mularkey can actually call good games, it’s just up to the players to execute and the way we run the no huddle now, Mularkey really doesn’t call some of the plays. But our defense has to change. We need a Dom Capers, a Dick Lebeau. A defensive mastermind.

Joe

January 1st, 2012
2:12 pm

I think we should switch to a 3-4 defense. IMO

JSS

January 1st, 2012
2:13 pm

Stevve-O. He is batting 39%… You are a dead-ender. For every Peters there are a two players like Jerry and Baker. You mention Moore and Weatherspoon (might as well add Jones), they are indeed talented specimens, but they are Injured Reserve superstars too! I trust his lower round picks more than high ones. Maybe that is why he was willing to shed his high picks to get Jones (sarcasm). Maybe, you’d have some real depth by now if he’d hit more on those rich picks… Try stop being such a apologists and homer… The Patroits are not my concern, if they are drafting pitifully (hey he picked Laurence Maroney), let Belichek hire someone else to evaluate to get the job done…

Michael M.

January 1st, 2012
2:13 pm

You got to admit it These Saints do get a lot of lucky calls and why ? Its not like they actually need any breaks !

Tony Montana

January 1st, 2012
2:14 pm

Right on. I’m preparing my famous Cuban St Louis pork butt Steaks,,,

Michael M.

January 1st, 2012
2:16 pm

If we have to play them again then we just have to go down there and play em…what other choice is there but can’t play these stupid Zebras too though !

Tony Montana

January 1st, 2012
2:17 pm

Big holes for the Panthers runners.,,, where was that last week,, oh yeah,, our O line sux……

Michael M.

January 1st, 2012
2:18 pm

Barbecue Ribs on slabs , Barbecue beans with diced onions, backed potatoes and apple pie for dessert. And Add a Falcons Win 34-14 …………..

Tie Game in Nawlins right now

Tony Montana

January 1st, 2012
2:18 pm

Its looking like Carolina is up to the task of playing the Aints and the Officials,,, good for them,,,

Falcon56

January 1st, 2012
2:20 pm

Can someone explain to me how Carolina can look so good against the Saints and we look like we just fail off the turnip truck when we play them?

Michael M.

January 1st, 2012
2:21 pm

Why does Greg Williams look like Sean Payton ’s long lost brother.ha ! ha !

Falcon56

January 1st, 2012
2:22 pm

Dang, I’m coming to TM and MM’s house for the food and football, sure sounds alot better than my pizza.

Michael M.

January 1st, 2012
2:22 pm

Panther may just take the Who Dats today

Tony Montana

January 1st, 2012
2:23 pm

Thats a pretty good Carolina offense,,, and with a rookie quarterback.

Falcon56

January 1st, 2012
2:23 pm

AMEN on the OL TM

Tony Montana

January 1st, 2012
2:25 pm

That Colston guy is amazing,, nobody can cover him,, haha,, that looked like Dunta Robinson on that one…..

Michael M.

January 1st, 2012
2:25 pm

Breezy just has good receivers and tight ends that don’t drop the ball

24-17 Aints

Tony Montana

January 1st, 2012
2:27 pm

He had to slow down and wait on the ball and he was still wide open.

Michael M.

January 1st, 2012
2:27 pm

Cam looks like a big tight end…lol

[...] after this season. We know this for certain because the Falcons announced a little while ago that they have signed him to a one year extension, via D. Orlando Ledbetter. Gonzalez was just voted to his 12th Pro Bowl, has 79 receptions, seven touchdowns and actually has [...]

Falcon56

January 1st, 2012
2:34 pm

Jeff…….. you trying to take DOL’s thunder?

Runner-

January 1st, 2012
2:35 pm

Nice one!! Pro Bowl honors at this age is incredible Tony G, keep it coming my man!!