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Gonzalez gives agent green light to strike deal with Falcons

1:45 PM, Mar 12, 2013   |    comments
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Tight end Tony Gonzalez #88 of the Atlanta Falcons celebrates after catching a 10-yard touchdown in the second quarter against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game at the Georgia Dome on January 20, 2013 in Atlanta. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

(USA Today) -- Tony Gonzalez hasn't publicly declared that he will return for a 17th NFL season, but here's another sign that he apparently is leaning in that direction: The Atlanta Falcons tight end has given his agent, Tom Condon, the green light to talk to the team about a new contract, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told USA TODAY Sports.

The person requested anonymity because the talks have not been made public.

PHOTOS | Tony Gonzalez returning to Falcons

With the free-agent market to open at 4 p.m. ET Tuesday, the Falcons could use some clarity about the status their all-pro tight end, who is contemplating retirement. Gonzalez's previous contract has expired.

If Gonzalez walks away from football, it is likely he would pursue television opportunities. Now, however, football seems to be the preferred option.

Condon is expected to explore the contractual situation with the Falcons today, although it is unclear whether a deal could be struck immediately. According to a report by Michael Silver of Yahoo!, citing a source, Gonzalez is seeking $7 million for the 2013 season in addition to a reduced training camp.

The discussions could determine the tight end's eventual decision.

Former NFL quarterback Warren Moon had lunch with Gonzalez three weeks ago and Moon came away convinced Gonzalez will return for a 17th NFL season, given the right defensive improvements by the Falcons.

"I think he's going to come back. I think he's leaning very, very heavily that way,'' Moon told USA TODAY Sports. "He definitely wants that ring -- that's the thing that keeps biting at him about whether he comes back or not.

"The thing he's really looking at: If they make the changes to make their team better on the defensive side of the ball, if they can do that, I think he'll come back.''

The Falcons finished 24th in overall defense during the regular season.

"If they don't make any changes on that side of the ball and get better over there ... I don't think he wants to go through that again,'' Moon said. These next three or four days are going to tell a lot about his decision."

Gonzalez's 19-yard reception on Matt Ryan's slant pass set up Matt Bryant's winning field goal for Atlanta's 30-28 divisional playoff win against Seattle. The tight end wept after that first playoff win of his 16-season career.

Gonzalez had 14 postseason catches, including two for touchdowns coming off a 93-reception, 8-touchdown regular season. He earned $4.9 million last season and coach Mike Smith said at the scouting combine that it would help the team to learn Gonzalez's decision "sooner rather than later.''

Moon thinks he knows: "He's starting to feel those juices again and he's had a chance to rest and heal up."

(USA Today)

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