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Gonzalez leaves door ajar for return, says Ryan not elite

The SportsXchange

Recently-retired tight end Tony Gonzalez told ESPN the Magazine that there is a scenario in which he might return to football next season and also said Atlanta Falcons teammate Matt Ryan is not an elite quarterback.

"Maybe, if the team is hot in November, 9-2 (record) or something, I could come back for the last two months," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez contemplated retirement before last season before deciding to return for one more shot at reaching the Super Bowl. The Falcons did not come close, finishing with a 4-12 record.

If the Falcons were rolling next season and called on Gonzalez to return, he hinted that he would consider coming back.

"Can I get back to the last couple of years when I used to say I'm 97 percent sure?" Gonzalez said. "I'd probably take them up on that offer, especially if they're 10-0."

A big part of whether the Falcons are successful moving forward hinges on Ryan's arm. Gonzalez said that while Ryan is better than most quarterbacks in the NFL, he is not at the top tier yet.

"Matt's an excellent quarterback, but he's not elite. He's this close," Gonzalez said while nearly pinching his thumb and index finger together. "He'll get there, but he has some learning to do."

Ryan, 28, signed a five-year, $103.75 million contract extension last summer that is second among quarterbacks. He only trails Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers.

Gonzalez also said during the ESPN interview that he was open to being traded last season before the Oct. 29 deadline. At that point, the Falcons fell to 2-5 and on their way to a 4-12 record.

"You trade me to a team that needs me, that wants to make a serious run in the playoffs and the Super Bowl," Gonzalez said. "You get something in return for a guy who you know won't be here next year. And the season isn't going anywhere anyway. That's rational."

He said in October that he would "listen" if the Falcons were interested in trading him. According to the ESPN report, he was not happy about not getting sent to a contender.

Gonzalez was reportedly at a restaurant with his wife, expecting to get a call from the Falcons to let him know he was getting dealt, but the call never came.

Gonzalez had 83 receptions for 859 yards and eight touchdowns in his final year and replaced San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis in the Pro Bowl. His 111 career receiving touchdowns are sixth all time.

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