Anytime a recognizable player becomes available every armchair GM from Boston to Bangor wants to bring him to New England. But few of those players have the ability of future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez.
The former All-Pro tight end hung up the cleats after a brilliant 17-year career that finished with another solid season of production in 2013 with Atlanta. He nearly packed it in prior to last year but decided instead to skip much of training camp and still responded with another productive season with 83 catches for 859 yards and eight touchdowns.
Gonzalez called it quits for good after the season – at least that's what he's saying publicly. He took a job with CBS and will be part of the network's pregame coverage this season. Recently he was quoted in Newsday as saying, "The temptation would be there, but I don't know what the gain would be. I've always wanted a ring. That's been my main goal as a player over the last 15 years of my career. You're really trying to get that ultimate goal.
"But I'd be a mercenary to come in and get a Super Bowl ring, play with a team for, what, six, seven weeks? And even if I got the ring, it wouldn't be the same as going through the fight with the team from the beginning to the end. I don't think that will happen. The temptation will be there, but I'm 100-percent happy with my decision.
"I've had teams ask me to come back and play for them. I won't name those teams, but I'm happily retired, so I'm not even thinking about it. I'm looking forward to getting to work with these guys from CBS."
Some interpret those comments as a sign that he'll be coming back at some point. Others took them at face value. So our Samsonite Make Your Case question this week asks: Do you think Tony Gonzalez will play for the Patriots in 2014?
PFW's Andy Hart says ...
Anyone who's heard Gonzalez' comments about his career over the last year is well aware that the future Hall of Fame tight end is nowhere near content with his Super Bowl-free football existence. He's already admitted he's going to be "tempted" to join a championship-caliber team this fall. If he comes back, which he will, he's going to want to play for an elite quarterback. Tom Brady, ding, ding, ding!
He's also going to want to be a key contributor on the offense down the stretch, which he would immediately be in New England. He's also probably going to want to play for a respected, intelligent coach who can make the most of his short return to action. Bill Belichick, baby!
It's pretty clear that Gonzalez is going to have a playing itch that will need scratching later this fall. And it's obvious that the Patriots would be the best fit for his return to the field. Might as well start making the No. 88 Gonzalez jerseys now.
PFW's Paul Perillo says ...
If this was about what I feel the Patriots should do then it's a no-brainer. Gonzalez would be the perfect complement to Rob Gronkowski and the offense would finally have some depth at tight end when it comes to potential receivers. But that's not what this is about. It's about believing if it will happen and I don't.
Gonzalez said he doesn't want to be a mercenary and I believe him. Coming out of retirement just to get a ring would make him exactly that. He's had a stellar career and in my opinion it could only be tarnished but hanging on simply to chase a ring that he didn't put in the same amount of effort to receive as the rest of his teammates. I think of great players like Karl Malone in basketball shamelessly trying to buy a title, and the subsequent stain on his resume that was left behind. Gonzalez doesn't want that, and I applaud him for it.
Gonzalez told the Falcons he was through, he says he's happy with the decision and I have no reason to think he's lying. Obviously the decision is his, but there's no way for him to look good by coming out of retirement during the season. Even if he ultimately earns a ring he wouldn't have earned it – and he knows it. That's why he's not coming back.
Now it's your turn to cast a vote in this week's Samsonite Make Your Case poll question.