With his team's season quickly unraveling, tight end Tony Gonzalez wasn't throwing in the towel following a 30-28 loss to the New York Jets on Monday that dropped the Falcons' record to 1-4.
“What are we going to do? Sit here and feel sorry for ourselves?” Gonzalez told ESPN.com. “I'm not going to throw my hands up and say the season's over. We still have a lot of football left to play, and I'm going to believe.”
Gonzalez's faith will be tested, it seems. Since 1990, only six of the 118 teams that started 1-4 went on to reach the postseason (according to ESPN). What's more, the Falcons received more bad news today when they announced that star receiver Julio Jones will likely be out for the season with a foot injury.
Which brings up a rather obvious (and incredibly juicy) possibility: Could his former team, the 5-0 and suddenly surging Chiefs, be tempted to make a play for the former team icon?
Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers told Fox Sports Radio on Tuesday afternoon that he would welcome Gonzalez back.
"That would be all the way up to Tony Gonzalez if he wants to come back to Kansas City," said Flowers, who was Gonzalez's teammate in 2008. "I'd love to have him back here. That's one of the guys, he was definitely a pro. He definitely taught me how to be a pro in this locker room. He's just a great guy to have on your team. You can ask anybody that ever played with him. So I would welcome him back with open arms."
But could it realistically work? For fun, let's just assume the Chiefs can made a trade work, financially, though the team doesn't release cap details. On paper, a deal would make some sense. The Chiefs have moved the ball well enough to remain undefeated, but Gonzalez would certainly provide another target capable of working the middle of the field. He would also add another receiving threat that defenses would have to account for, along with receiver Dwayne Bowe and running back Jamaal Charles, potentially unlocking some big-play potential.
However, there are some potential roadblocks to a trade, too. For starters, what would be the compensation? During an interview this afternoon with Sports Radio 810 host Soren Petro, general manager John Dorsey was asked what a Hall of Fame tight end — without naming Gonzalez, in particular — would be worth on the open market via trade.
"I'd give him a spot up in that stadium one day," Dorsey said.
Dorsey was then asked if he would give up a draft pick.
"I'm very frugal with those draft picks," Dorsey said.
So that would be a no?
"No, it's not a no," Dorsey said. "We have to analyze each situation. That's kind of what that is."
Although tight ends Anthony Fasano and third-round rookie Travis Kelce each missed Sunday's 26-17 win over the Titans and have been banged up of late, if Dorsey were reluctant to give up a good pick, even say, a third- or fourth-rounder for Gonzalez, it would be understandable.
Since he took over this offseason, Dorsey has often stressed the desire to build this team through the draft and supplement it through free agency. The NFL is a "win-now" league, but this is still year one of the plan as he looks to rebuild a franchise that went 2-14 last season. I'm not sure dealing a good-to-decent pick for a one-year asset like the 37-year old Gonzalez, who is almost certain to retire after the season, is totally worth it, especially when second-year pro Sean McGrath looks like a real find at the position.
In that same vein, I'm not sure the Falcons would be ready to essentially set their season on fire for a low pick, either. Yes, Jones is probably gone for the year, and yes, his sidekick, Roddy White, has been banged up, too. But we're still only five weeks into the season, which is a bit early for a team that made the NFC Championship Game last year to just give up. There's a general belief that Atlanta owner Arthur Blank is hardwired like that.
There's also this: The NFL remains a passing league, and Matt Ryan, Blank's 28-year old quarterback, is healthy and playing good football. He sports a 10-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio and has completed 69.3 percent of his passes for 1,649 yards. His quarterback rating of 100.9 is the sixth-best in the league right now. So while the Falcons only have about a five percent chance of making the playoffs, there's little doubt that if it happens, it will be because Ryan stays hot. And right now, Gonzalez is clearly his best, healthiest target.
Besides, the trade deadline is still three weeks away — Oct. 29 — and the Falcons, who are currently on a bye, play twice before then, at home against the 0-4 Buccaneers and on the road against the 3-2 Cardinals. Two winnable games.
So while a Gonzalez return to Kansas City, where he starred from 1997-2008, would be fun, it seems more likely that the next time Chiefs fans get a chance to see Gonzalez at Arrowhead will come when he's a retired man being inducted into the Chiefs' Hall of Fame.