Tony Gonzalez

Extra Points: Comp Picks, Pagano, Gonzalez

NFLPA president Eric Winston is not a fan of the compensatory pick structure that sends teams draft picks for losing talent in free agency and not spending on outside free agents.

I’ve never understood it,” Winston said (via The Athletic’s Ross Tucker) of a system that began when full-fledged free agency spawned in 1993. “It was negotiated in a long time ago. It’s really antithetical to what we think the NFL should be. We have a soft cap system. There isn’t really the small vs. big market thing like baseball. If everybody is spending about the same money, why is it needed?

The Eagles’ decision to trade a third-round pick for Golden Tate probably represented the top compensatory pick-related deadline deal, with the Lions taking a 2019 third-rounder and the Eagles likely betting Tate walking in free agency will net them a 2020 third. (Though, the Cardinals acquired a sixth-round pick (and cost the Vikings a 2019 third) by cutting Sam Bradford prior to Week 10.) This system also affects mid- or lower-tier free agents in March and April, when teams’ compensatory picks are attached to signings.

As a player you are almost better off being cut because then every team can have interest in you without regard to the comp picks. How does that make sense?” Winston said, via Tucker.

Here’s the latest from around the league:

  • Bruce Arians recently plugged former boss Chuck Pagano for the Browns’ job, and the former Colts coach has stayed involved in preparation for another potential opportunity. Pagano’s worked with NFL officials as a league consultant, Tom Pelissero of tweets, adding that the six-year Indianapolis leader visited some college camps as well. Although Pagano’s final three years in Indianapolis did not go nearly as well as his first three, he may generate interest in 2019.
  • The Vikings‘ decision to let Case Keenum walk and spend $84MM fully guaranteed to add Kirk Cousins ranks as one of’s best moves of the offseason. “They were smart enough to realize they had the quarterback-friendly setup with a ferocious defense that gives up 20 points or less a game,” an NFL exec said, via ESPN’s Mike Sando (ESPN+ link). While Keenum led all passers in QB DVOA last season, he’s 23rd in Denver. Cousins, though, is just 17th by this measurement. Cousins (12th) is 15 spots ahead of Keenum in Total QBR, however.
  • An interesting what-if from a past trade deadline emerged recently. The Chiefs nearly traded Tony Gonzalez in 2008, months before he was actually dealt. Both the Eagles and Packers agreed to send a third-round pick to the Chiefs, and Jay Glazer of The Athletic (subscription required) notes it was going to be up to the then-32-year-old tight end to decide which team he preferred. (Gonzalez, per Glazer, initially wanted a trade to the Giants, but GM Jerry Reese refused to give up a third for the future Hall of Famer.) Then-Chiefs president Carl Peterson, though, changed the terms of the deal. Peterson, fired in December of 2008, asked for a second-rounder minutes before the ’08 deadline, Glazer adds, scuttling a potential Gonzalez trip to either an Eagles team that ended up in the NFC title game or Mike McCarthy‘s Packers — then in their first year of the Aaron Rodgers era. A livid Gonzalez then told Glazer he wanted to retire. However, he returned to a Chiefs team that finished 2-14 before new decision-maker Scott Pioli traded him to the Falcons the following year.

NFC South Notes: Falcons, Newton, Bucs

The Falcons had been scheduled to interview Todd Bowles for a second time today, but were well aware the Jets may not let him leave, tweets Alex Marvez of Fox Sports, adding that Atlanta “wasn’t totally sold” on Bowles. With a pair of presumed finalists – Bowles and Rex Ryan – now off the table, the Falcons’ top options appear to be Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin. With Austin due in for a second meeting today, it’ll be interesting to see whether the Falcons decide to move on him or wait for Quinn, who may not become available until February.

Here’s more from around the NFC South:

  • You can debate whether Cam Newton is worth a six-year, $100MM+ contract, which is what it might take to lock him up, but it would be a mistake for the Panthers not to work out an extension with him, argues David Newton of With Newton preparing to enter a contract year, “the time is now” to reach a multiyear agreement with the quarterback, Newton adds.
  • New Buccaneers offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter says he doesn’t have a clue which player the Bucs will take with the No. 1 overall pick. He has a big decision to make when it comes to Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston, writes Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.
  • As Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk details, former Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez says he didn’t miss football during his first year of retirement, although he briefly had “a 2% urge to get out there.” That slight urge wasn’t nearly enough to sway him when teams showed interest during the season, according to the future Hall-of-Famer. “Some teams reached out to me. A couple teams. I’m not going to name who they were,” Gonzalez said. “I’m about 230 pounds now. I’m afraid I would get crushed out on the football field now.”

South Notes: Gonzalez, Jaguars, Panthers

Former Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez says he’s “happily retired,” and is settling into his new role as a CBS analyst, despite receiving calls from teams with interest in signing him, writes Bob Glauber of Newsday. Still, the 14-time Pro Bowler acknowledges that if a Super Bowl contender were to call him late in the season, it wouldn’t necessarily be easy to say no.

“The temptation would be there, but I don’t know what the gain would be,” Gonzalez said. “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% happy with my decision.”

Here’s more from out of the NFL’s two South divisions:

Falcons Release Tony Gonzalez

The Falcons have officially released future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez, reports Vaughn McClure of (via Twitter). The move is a technicality, because Gonzalez has already announced that he is retiring and will not return to the team in 2014. Gonzalez must not have turned in his retirement paperwork, and releasing him will free up $7MM, as his upcoming salary would have still counted against the cap until he retired.

P. Schrager of Fox Sports agrees that the only reason this move was necessary must have been due to Gonzalez not officially submitting the paperwork, but notes that the team would have had to pay him a $3MM roster bonus if he was still on the roster in a few days (via Twitter).

Byrd Notes: Falcons, Browns, Jets, Bills

The deadline for teams to apply their franchise and transition tags has come and gone, and the Bills announced earlier today they would not tag three-time Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd.

Now it’s time for beat writers from safety-needy teams to look at whether the former Oregon product who played the 2013 season on a franchise tender would be worth his hefty price tag.

When D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta-Journal Constitution ranked his five free agent targets for the Falcons, he ranked Byrd No. 1. Atlanta will be $26.7MM beneath the salary cap once Tony Gonzalez‘s $7MM slot is removed, and Ledbetter cites the potential upgrade Byrd would present over incumbent free safety Thomas DeCoud, whom the Falcons are expected to release, as justification.

But, there’s only so much money you can invest in one position, as ESPN Atlanta Falcons reporter Vaughn McClure points out. Strong safety William Moore enters year two of a five-year, $29.51M contract, and Byrd figures to command a substantially larger deal.

Other Byrd notes from around the league…

  • When the Browns placed the transition tag on center Alex Mack earlier today, they gave up their exclusive rights of T.J. Ward, another top-tier safety hitting free agency. ESPN Browns reporter Pat McManamon looks at the potential for a Byrd/Ward swap of sorts, reuniting Byrd with Cleveland head coach and former Buffalo defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.
  • The Jets haven’t paid top dollar for a safety since Kerry Rhodes‘ $33.5MM deal in 2008, reporter Rich Cimini notes, but Byrd is worth investigating. Cimini’s gut tells him the team will likely look again to Dawan Landry and Antonio Allen in 2014, but with 22 interceptions since 2009 and six against the Jets, Byrd should draw the organization’s eye.
  • Aaron Williams, a second-round pick in 2011, tops the list of likely replacements for Byrd in Buffalo, with younger players Duke Williams, Jonathan Meeks and Jujuan Harley as long shots, per ESPN Bills reporter Mike Rodak.

Falcons Rumors: Draft, Babineaux, Gonzalez

Earlier today, Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff spoke to reporters about the club’s strategy heading into the draft and overall gameplan for the offseason. Here’s a look at the highlights..

  • Dimitroff reiterated his openness to trading up in the draft, tweets Vaughn McClure of The Falcons currently own the No. 6 overall pick in the draft. It’s purely speculation, but a move to trade up could be an effort to get in the mix for South Carolina standout defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
  • The Falcons’ current focus is on free agents before looking in-house to restructure any deals, tweets D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Julio Jones and Roddy White are among Atlanta’s extension candidates.
  • Dimitroff added that the club has yet to extend any offers to any of their own free agents, tweets McClure. Atlanta’s free agents include defensive tackles Jonathan Babineaux and Corey Peters, cornerback Dominique Franks, tight end Chase Coffman, and offensive lineman Joe Hawley.
  • Dimitroff was asked if he’s still trying to lure tight end Tony Gonzalez back for one more year – he smiled and said “no,” tweets Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star.

NFC Notes: Delmas, Falcons, Panthers

The Eagles will be targeting safeties this offseason in an effort to upgrade their secondary, but veteran free agent Louis Delmas doesn’t appear to be on their wish list, according to Reuben Frank of A source tells Frank that the Eagles have “little interest” in the former Lion, who was released by Detroit last week, and that disinterest is likely related to Delmas’ health. While the 26-year-old free safety started all 16 games in 2013, he has had surgeries on both knees in recent years, and missed 13 of 32 regular season contests in 2011 and 2012.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • In a Tuesday news release, CBS Sports confirmed that Tony Gonzalez will be joining the network’s pregame studio show, replacing the departing Dan Marino and Shannon Sharpe. The new job for Gonzalez essentially rules out a return to the field in 2014, meaning the Falcons will get $7MM in cap savings, as ESPN’s Adam Caplan outlines (via Twitter).
  • Noting that the Panthers haven’t really begun negotiating with any of their prospective free agents yet,’s David Newton says there’s no reason to get worked up about Cam Newton‘s contract situation, since he’ll get paid eventually, whether it happens this offseason or down the line.
  • The Cowboys will have to lock up wide receiver Dez Bryant and left tackle Tyron Smith at some point, and Calvin Watkins of believes a new deal for Smith should take precedence.
  • Following up on the latest Sam Bradford rumors, Andrew Cohen of breaks down the four scenarios for the Rams: Releasing Bradford, extending him with a pay cut, extending him without a pay cut, and standing pat.

NFC South Notes: Gonzalez, Graham, Panthers

Former Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano was in the news again today, with a report suggesting that his candidacy in the Browns’ coaching search contributed to the rift between CEO Joe Banner and owner Jimmy Haslam. The Bucs themselves aren’t making headlines at the moment, but here are a few of the latest items on their division rivals in the NFC South:

  • In a recent ESPN The Magazine interview, retiring tight end Tony Gonzalez left the door slightly open for a possible return to the Falcons later in the 2014 season, “if the team is hot in November, 9-2 or something.” However, it doesn’t sound like GM Thomas Dimitroff is anticipating having Gonzalez back. Speaking to Vaughn McClure of, Dimitroff simply said, “I believe Tony Gonzalez has retired and he’ll have a fantastic career in the media business.”
  • While Jimmy Graham was split out as a receiver for about two-third of his snaps in 2013, that fact alone doesn’t tell the whole story about his position, writes John McTigue of (Insider link). In McTigue’s view, Graham will still be considered a tight end if and when the Saints designate him as their franchise player, but when he eventually receives a long-term deal, he should get wide receiver money.
  • When I asked earlier in the week whether Graham should be viewed as a tight end or wide receiver for franchise salary purposes, over 60% of you went with TE.
  • With three of the four defensive backs who finished the season as starters eligible for free agency, the Panthers will have to make their secondary an area of focus this offseason, writes David Newton of As Newton suggests, this year’s cornerback class is strong enough that Carolina could likely find a starter in the second round of the draft.

NFC Notes: Avril, Gonzalez, 49ers, Eagles

Cliff Avril may have cost himself some long-term money when he reportedly turned down a three-year, $30MM extension offer from the Lions before the 2012 season. Avril ultimately played the 2012 season as a franchise player, then signed a more modest two-year deal with the Seahawks a year ago. However, as he told reporters yesterday, including Kyle Meinke of, Avril doesn’t have any regrets or hard feelings toward the Lions, who didn’t re-engaged in contract discussions after applying the franchise tag on the defensive end.

“It’s not like I’m making pennies,” Avril said. “Again, I can’t complain. I’m fortunate enough to be where I’m at right now. There’s definitely no bitterness though.”

Here are a few more Monday notes from around the NFC:

  • Tony Gonzalez, who played in his record-tying 14th Pro Bowl last night, expressed that he is “at peace” and will not be talked out of his plans to retire after the 2013 season, according to a tweet by’s Falcons reporter Vaughn McClure.
  • While the Falcons may focus on scouting players who are best suited for the team’s 3-4 scheme, GM Thomas Dimitroff acknowledged that Atlanta could use any pass-rushers capable of getting the quarterback consistently. McClure has the quotes and the details.
  • Kevin Lynch of the San Francisco Chronicle explains why it may be in both Colin Kaepernick‘s and the 49ers‘ best interests to work out a long-term deal sooner rather than later.
  • There’s a 75% chance Anquan Boldin re-signs with the 49ers, in the opinion of’s Bill Williamson, who also predicts the odds of other free agents returning to San Francisco.
  • Tim McManus of spoke to cap expert Joel Corry about a number of decisions facing the Eagles this offseason.
  • The Packers are working out free agent fullback Jonathan Amosa today, according to Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post. Amosa, a University of Washington product, was with Green Bay during training camp.

David Kipke contributed to this post.