has made a staggering 1,242 receptions during his career. (David Stluka/AP)
Tony Gonzalez's retirement probability never quite reached 100 percent, and now the future Hall of Fame tight end reportedly has decided to come back for one more year in Atlanta.
FOX Sports' Jay Glazer reported Tuesday that Gonzalez has informed the Falcons he will return for 2013, and that the two sides are working toward a contract -- Gonzalez technically could have become an unrestricted free agent. Earlier, USA Today reported that Gonzalez gave his agent, Tom Condon, the go-ahead to hammer out a deal with the Falcons.
Gonzalez took to Twitter shortly after the news broke.
It almost goes without saying that this is huge news for Atlanta. Even as he contemplated retirement during the 2012 season, Gonzalez led the Falcons with 93 receptions (he finished behind only Jason Witten's 110 catches among tight ends). He scored eight touchdowns during the regular season, then found the end zone in each of Atlanta's two playoff games.
The first of those two postseason outings also marked Gonzalez's only career playoff win -- a dramatic 30-28 triumph over the Seahawks. Atlanta was bounced the next week in the NFC title game by San Francisco, one win shy of the Super Bowl.
Had the Falcons captured the Vince Lombardi Trophy (and, possibly, if they had made it to the Super Bowl), Gonzalez's decision likely would have differed. Atlanta backup tight end Michael Palmer said following that win over Seattle that Gonzalez was "97 percent sure" he would hang 'em up, an increase over the 95 percent Gonzalez had offered previously.
Palmer, a restricted free agent, may have been asked to pick up some of the slack had Gonzalez retired; the Falcons almost certainly would have looked into free-agent candidates, too, like Tennessee's Jared Cook. Even with Gonzalez back, the Falcons might use a draft pick at the TE position -- barring another drastic change of heart, Gonzalez figures to actually retire following the 2013 season.
For one more season, though, Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan will enjoy his full complement of receiving targets, with Gonzalez again joining Julio Jones and Roddy White to form one of the league's most feared pass-catching units.
Now, can the Falcons send Gonzalez out a winner?