Falcons not ready to say goodbye to Gonzalez

McClatchy news servicesFebruary 23, 2013 

The Atlanta Falcons have two primary offseason goals.

Yes, they want to lock up franchise quarterback Matt Ryan to a new, long-term deal. But the more pressing need might be getting tight end Tony Gonzalez to delay his retirement plans for another season.

“I’ve spoken with Tony, and I hope you guys understand that when I talk to my players, I try to keep those conversations private,” coach Mike Smith said Friday at the NFL’s annual scouting combine in Indianapolis. “I’ll talk with him again, and the time frame on that is sooner than later.”

Atlanta (13-3) finished with the NFC’s best record and fell just short of reaching its second Super Bowl, a loss that many thought would be the last of Gonzalez’s career.

While he hasn’t officially announced his retirement, Gonzalez has said repeatedly he was 95 percent certain the 2012 season would be his last in the NFL.

DON’T PACK YET

Conventional wisdom suggests Green Bay will not bring back Pro Bowl receiver Greg Jennings next season.

But at the combine, coach Mike McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson made it clear if they can keep Jennings, they’d like to.

“All I am going to say is it is our policy, and we think it’s a good way to manage the NFL if you are able to retain any of your players, and we would very much like to do that,” Thompson said.

RAVENS C BIRK RETIRES

Matt Birk’s final game was a Super Bowl victory.

The Ravens center retired after 15 pro seasons.

“To cap it with a Super Bowl win, that’s a great thing,” the 36-year-old Birk said. “But, regardless of that, had that not happened, it would have still been a fantastic experience.”

A sixth-round draft selection out of Harvard in 1998, Birk played 11 seasons in Minnesota before going to Baltimore. He went to six Pro Bowls.

EXTRA POINTS

The Titans agreed to terms with safety George Wilson. Terms of the deal were not released. He spent much of the past nine years with the Bills, playing 92 games compiling 12 interceptions, 362 tackles and 22 passes defensed. … Don Shula, the career leader in coaching victories, will be honored with the Lamar Hunt Award given annually to an individual who helped to shape professional football.

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