2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Falcons still lobbying for Gonzalez's return

By MICHAEL MAROT - AP Sports Writer
    2013-02-22 18:44

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The Atlanta Falcons have two primary offseason goals.

Yes, they want to lock up franchise quarterback Matt Ryan to a new long-term deal. But the more pressing need may be getting tight end Tony Gonzalez to delay his retirement plans for another season.

``I've spoken with Tony, and I hope you guys understand that when I talk to my players, I try to keep those conversations private,'' coach Mike Smith said Friday at the NFL's annual scouting combine. ``I'll talk with him again, and the time frame on that is sooner than later. We know that Tony had an outstanding year for us.''

Atlanta (13-3) finished with the NFC's best record and fell just short of reaching its second Super Bowl, a loss that many thought would be the last of Gonzalez's career.

While he hasn't officially announced his retirement, Gonzalez has said repeatedly he was 95 percent certain the 2012 season would be his last in the NFL.

If Gonzalez doesn't return, Smith made it clear the Falcons would be looking for a replacement that looks a lot like Gonzalez, the career leader for receptions among tight ends. Of course, the best solution might be not be finding a replacement at all.

``I think the skill set that Tony Gonzalez has is basically the standard that most teams are looking for when they are talking about a tight end,'' Smith said. ``He was really the first one, the more athletic tight end that could extend from the formation, line up outside, line up in different places. We would be looking for that type of tight end.''

Gonzalez's future is only part of the equation in Atlanta.

Ryan has led the Falcons to the playoffs four times but has only one postseason win, and his contract is set to expire after next season. Apparently, Atlanta is ready to start talking.

``Obviously, it's a priority for us when the time is right, and we're not too anxious about it because we're confident that it's going to get done,'' general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. ``Our feeling is that Matt's going to be with us for many years to come and he's going to be our franchise guy that we're all very proud off, again, on and off the field. Matt's what we're looking for in a quarterback.''

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MORE CONTRACT TALK: The Falcons are just one of many teams at the combine being peppered with questions about contracts.

The Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals are in the club, too.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett lined up unequivocally behind his starting quarterback Tony Romo, though he acknowledged Dallas probably needs to restructure Romo's deal to fill out the roster.

``We believe very strongly in Tony Romo as our quarterback, so we want to get that business done to help our football team be as good as it can be,'' Garrett said. ``I do believe we have to address some things with personnel, and freeing up some of that money will allow us to do that.''

The Bengals aren't in salary cap crunch. Heading into free agency, they are expected to have more than $50 million to spend.

But they do have a lot of expiring contracts and many young players who will be due raises in the next couple of years, so they'll spend the next couple of weeks doing what they can to keep their team together.

``I don't have any confirmation yet that we have signed anyone,'' coach Marvin Lewis said. ``We're working hard on it and there are some meetings and positive things that have to continue to come. We have a number of guys who we have to get re-signed and we will work very hard at getting that done.''

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BROTHERLY LOVE: Apparently, the Harbaugh brothers are talking again.

A few days after the Super Bowl, winning coach John Harbaugh said he and his brother, Jim, had not spoken since the 49ers lost to the Ravens.

The silent treatment is now over.

``A little bit about the game and some other things,'' Jim Harbaugh said when asked at the combine if the two had talked since the title game. ``We've just got a strong relationship, and it always seems to get stronger. We're very close.''

Even so, there are some topics that are out of bounds, such as strategy.

And while it has been an incredible season for the Harbaugh family - John won his first Super Bowl, Jim won his first NFC championship and Indiana coach Tom Crean, their brother-in-law, has the No. 1 team in college basketball - that's no consolation to the former NFL quarterback whose name appears in the Lucas Oil Stadium Ring of Honor.

``It's not easier,'' Jim Harbaugh said of dealing with the loss now.

Harbaugh also said the 49ers may not have injured receiver Mario Manningham back on the field at the start of training camp, adding the caveat that he's no doctor. Manningham had reconstructive surgery on his left knee in January.

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COUGHLIN THE COMEDIAN: Giants coach Tom Coughlin tackled the expected routine Friday with humor.

Three questions into his scheduled 15-minute news conference, he was asked about having one year left on his contract. One of his players, cornerback Terrell Thomas, had said he thought this would be Coughlin's last year coaching.

``I wondered how long it would take to get to that. I tried to think of something funny to say, but I don't know what to say about it. I don't even know how a young man would come to that statement,'' he joked. ``I approach each year the way I always approach them and the energy is flowing well and I'm excited about it. I'm looking forward to this offseason and getting our football team together again. Maybe at some point I'll get the message, but it certainly isn't right now.''

For Coughlin, that was only the start of his comedy routine.

When he was asked whether center David Baas, who was listed with hip and shoulder injuries before the Giants season finale, had any surgery, Coughlin told reporters he had a little surgery.

The reporter then asked: ``On what?''

Coughlin's response: ``On his body.''

Seriously, though, Coughlin did call the decision to release running back Ahmad Bradshaw ``very tough.'' The injury-plagued Bradshaw helped the Giants win two Super Bowls.

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DON'T PACK YET: Conventional wisdom suggests Green Bay will not bring back Pro Bowl receiver Greg Jennings next season.

But at the combine, coach Mike McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson made it clear if they can keep Jennings, they'd like to.

``All I am going to say is it is our policy, and we think it's a good way to manage the NFL if you are able to retain any of your players, and we would very much like to do that, and that includes Greg,'' Thompson said.

The Packers are trying to prepare for a potential cap crunch in the next couple of seasons when they will have to re-sign linebacker Clay Matthews, defensive tackle B.J. Raji, and the 2011 league MVP, quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay has already released 2009 Defensive Player of the Year Charles Woodson, and longtime receiver Donald Driver announced his retirement earlier this month.

Most believe keeping Jennings is a luxury the Packers simply cannot afford, but the reality is Green Bay isn't ruling it out.

``We'll see what happens with Jennings because he is in more of a business situation,'' coach Mike McCarthy said. ``You don't replace Woodson and Driver, and I am talking about what type of guys they are and what they bring to the team.''

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COMING BACK: John Elway's return trip to Lucas Oil Stadium already has the Denver boss thinking about one of next fall's marquee matchups: Peyton Manning's return to Indianapolis.

The schedule usually is released in April, but Elway, who spent his entire NFL career with the Broncos, has a semblance of what it might be like when Manning comes back to Lucas Oil Stadium next fall.

``It'll be special. I'm sure it will be special for Peyton,'' Elway said. ``I'm sure when you spend as long as Peyton did in Indianapolis, the relationships that he has, at that point in his career to go somewhere else and play had to be tough.''

Indy fans won't have to wait that long to see Manning.

He's scheduled to be in town in late April for a fundraiser for the children's hospital that bears his name.

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

DeAngelo WilliamsSep 21 07:42p

The Carolina Panthers have declared OG Andrew Norwell, RB DeAngelo Williams, OT Garry Williams, DL Greg Hardy, LB Jason Williams, QB Joe Webb, SS Tre Boston inactive for Week 3.

DeAngelo WilliamsSep 21 07:42p

Carolina Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (thigh) is inactive for the Week 3 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

B.W. WebbSep 21 07:42p

The Pittsburgh Steelers have declared CB B.W. Webb, DT Daniel McCullers, RB Dri Archer, QB Landry Jones, WR Martavis Bryant, OG Ramon Foster, OG Wesley Johnson inactive for Week 3.

Marcus EasleySep 21 03:32p

Buffalo Bills WR Marcus Easley (knee) and SS Da'Norris Searcy (ankle) suffered injuries during the team's Week 3 game and are considered questionable to return.

Greg ScruggsSep 21 03:22p

The Seattle Seahawks have declared OT Garry Gilliam, LB Bruce Irvin, OT Andrew McDonald, RB Christine Michael, WR Kevin Norwood, DE Greg Scruggs, CB Tharold Simon inactive for Week 3.

Jamaal CharlesSep 21 03:12p

The Kansas City Chiefs have declared SS Eric Berry, RB Jamaal Charles, OT Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, QB Aaron Murray, DE Damion Square, RB De'Anthony Thomas, WR Albert Wilson inactive for Week 3.

Carson PalmerSep 21 03:12p

Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer (shoulder) has been declared inactive for the team's Week 3 game.

Tony CarterSep 21 03:12p

The Denver Broncos have declared CB Tony Carter, OG Ben Garland, WR Cody Latimer, LB Lerentee McCray, OT Michael Schofield, LB Danny Trevathan, DT Mitch Unrein inactive for Week 3.

Jamaal CharlesSep 21 03:11p

Charles is out for the Week 3 game.

Mike PounceySep 21 03:02p

The Miami Dolphins have declared DE Terrence Fede, LB Koa Misi, RB Knowshon Moreno, C Mike Pouncey, OG Shelley Smith, LB Jordan Tripp and OT Billy Turner inactive for Week 3.

Vernon DavisSep 21 02:52p

San Francisco 49ers TE Vernon Davis (ankle, knee) has been declared inactive for Week 3.

Vernon DavisSep 21 02:52p

The San Francisco 49ers have declared CB Tramaine Brock, DE Cornellius Carradine, OT Anthony Davis, TE Vernon Davis, C Marcus Martin, TE Vance McDonald, WR Quinton Patton inactive for Week 3.

Chad HenneSep 21 02:52p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles entered the team's Week 3 game in the second half after QB Chad Henne was benched.

Dave ZastudilSep 21 02:52p

The Arizona Cardinals have declared LB Victor Butler, LB Glenn Carson, TE Rob Housler, LB Alex Okafor, QB Carson Palmer, NT Alameda Ta'amu, P Dave Zastudil inactive for Week 3.

Stephen TullochSep 21 02:42p

Detroit Lions LB Stephen Tulloch (knee) and FS Don Carey (hamstring) suffered injuries during the team's Week 3 game and are considered questionable to return.

Dennis PittaSep 21 02:22p

Baltimore Ravens TE Dennis Pitta (hip) was carted off after suffering a right hip injury during the team's Week 3 game.

Matt CasselSep 21 02:02p

Minnesota Vikings QB Matt Cassel (toe) was carted off the field in Week 3 after suffering a toe injury. He is considered questionable to return.

Danny WoodheadSep 21 01:22p

San Diego Chargers RB Danny Woodhead (undisclosed) was carted off the field after suffering an undisclosed injury in Week 3.

Adrian PetersonSep 21 12:42p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's lawyers are looking for an expedited trial for Peterson and do not want the trial to begin next year.

Ray RiceSep 21 12:22p

Free-agent RB Ray Rice (Ravens) will argue during his appeal hearing that the tape that was released of his domestic violence incident was edited, according to a source. Rice [ More ]

Keenan AllenSep 21 12:04p

Allen is active for the Week 3 game.

Shane VereenSep 21 12:02p

New England Patriots RB Shane Vereen (shoulder) is active against the Oakland Raiders Sunday, Sept. 21.

A.J. GreenSep 21 11:52a

Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green (toe) is active against the Tennessee Titans Sunday, Sept. 21.

Anthony SpencerSep 21 11:52a

The Dallas Cowboys have declared DL Anthony Spencer, DL Davon Coleman, OG Donald Hawkins, QB Dustin Vaughan, LB Justin Durant, LB Rolando McClain, CB Tyler Patmon inactive for Week 3.

Bryce BrownSep 21 11:52a

The Buffalo Bills have declared RB Bryce Brown, TE Chris Gragg, OG Cyril Richardson, OT Cyrus Kouandjio, LB Keith Rivers, LB Randell Johnson, CB Ross Cockrell inactive for Week 3.

Aaron DobsonSep 21 11:52a

New England Patriots WR Kenbrell Thompkins is active for the Week 3 game Sunday, Sept. 21. WR Aaron Dobson is a healthy scratch for the game.

Aaron DobsonSep 21 11:52a

The New England Patriots have declared WR Aaron Dobson, CB Don Jones, RB James White, OL Josh Kline, DL Michael Buchanan, C Ryan Wendell, DE Zach Moore inactive for Week 3.

Akeem JordanSep 21 11:42a

The Washington Redskins have declared LB Akeem Jordan, TE Jordan Reed, DL Kedric Golston, OT Morgan Moses, QB Robert Griffin III, WR Santana Moss, CB Tracy Porter inactive for Week 3.

Brandon WattsSep 21 11:42a

The Minnesota Vikings have declared LB Brandon Watts, WR Charles X. Johnson, QB Christian Ponder, OG David Yankey, WR Rodney Smith, DL Scott Crichton, CB Shaun Prater inactive for Week 3.

Arthur JonesSep 21 11:42a

The Indianapolis Colts have declared DL Arthur Jones, LB Chris Carter, WR Da'Rick Rogers, LB Jerrell Freeman, OL Joe Reitz, C Khaled Holmes, OG Lance Louis inactive for Week 3.

Brandon ThompsonSep 21 11:42a

The Cincinnati Bengals have declared DL Brandon Thompson, CB Chris Lewis-Harris, OG Kevin Zeitler, WR Marvin Jones, RB Rex Burkhead, LB Sean Porter, LB Vontaze Burfict inactive for Week 3.

Ben TateSep 21 11:42a

The Cleveland Browns have declared RB Ben Tate, DL Eric Martin, TE Gerell Robinson, DL Ish Kitchen, WR LaRon Byrd, CB Pierre Desir, DB Robert Nelson inactive for Week 3.

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