After telling reporters multiple times that there is a "95 percent" chance he will retire this offseason, Tony Gonzalez reiterated that the NFC Championship game loss would probably be his last game in an Atlanta Falcons uniform.
Although Falcons wide receiver Roddy White revealed a plan to use the "Brett Favre strategy" to recruit Gonzalez for one final run at a Super Bowl, coach Mike Smith maintains there's nothing "concrete in terms of a timetable" for the tight end to come to a decision.
"But I think that conversation will take place," Smith added, via The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I had a conversation with him the week after the season and we'll probably have another here real soon."
Smith further explained that the personnel department would be performing its NFL Scouting Combine due diligence on tight end prospects regardless of Gonzalez's return.
While Smith is reluctant to pressure the future Hall of Famer into a decision, he is still holding out hope for that "other 5 percent." General manager Thomas Dimitroff has gone a step further, lobbying hard for Gonzalez's return because there is "very legitimate fuel" still left in the tank after his best season in a Falcons uniform.
Smith and Dimitroff can hang their hat on the knowledge that Gonzalez had threatened retirement the previous two seasons only to return. It can only help their cause that Gonzalez still firmly believes he could keep playing at a high level for a couple of more years.
Gonzalez is right about that, of course, which is why we believe he will ultimately opt to play in 2013.Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.