Gonzalez trade talks ongoing with deadline approaching

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Tony Gonzalez practiced with the Kansas City Chiefs for what could be the last time Monday and then went home to await word on whether he's been traded.

Several teams are thought to be interested in the nine-time Pro Bowl tight end, including Buffalo, Philadelphia and the New York Giants.

But a Chiefs spokesman who asked not to be identified because talks were still ongoing told The Associated Press that no deal was pending.

The trade deadline is 4 p.m. EDT on Tuesday.

Gonzalez, who holds tight end records for receptions, touchdowns and yards receiving, asked the Chiefs to explore trade talks because he wants an opportunity to make a Super Bowl run before his career is done.

Gonzalez had left the Chiefs' locker room Monday by the time reporters were admitted.

At 32, Gonzalez plans to play at least one more season and possibly two. His age could be an impediment to a deal because the Chiefs are not likely to let him get away cheaply.

With the rebuilding Chiefs having quarterback problems while working 15 rookies into their system, Gonzalez's numbers are down. He caught 21 passes and scored two touchdowns the first five games as the Chiefs went 1-4.

Gonzalez's teammates came back Monday from their bye week and tried to get ready for Sunday's game against unbeaten Tennessee without letting the possible loss of one of the best and most popular players in team history become a distraction.

"It was business as usual," said left guard Brian Waters. "We were back to work. When we had the walk-through, Tony was in there as our starting tight end. Nothing had changed. Until his jersey changes, he's still going to be a Kansas City Chief and we're going to treat him as such."

Waters dismissed speculation that the Chiefs would resent Gonzalez for wanting to bolt the young, developing team, and that he might not give 100 percent if he ends up staying with a team he tried to leave.

"I think that's a lot of (nonsense) to tell you the truth," Waters said. "We realize that Tony Gonzalez is a great football player and regardless of whatever decision happens now, as these games go forth, we're going to need him if he's still here. We're going to need him to win football games.

"All that resentment and those things, that's brought up by (the media)," Waters added. "I don't think that happens in the locker room. We understand the business aspect of it."

Rookie tight end Brad Cottam, who becomes the starter if Gonzalez leaves, admitted the situation makes him feel awkward.

"Hopefully, eventually I will be the No. 1 tight end here," Cottam said. "But he definitely adds something to this team that can't really be replaced. It's been perfect for me to come in and learn from him. It's been great."

Rookie fullback Mike Cox, who won the starting job in training camp, said all the rookies have tried to take a lesson from Gonzalez's commitment to excellence.

"Tony's always out there before practice running his routes, doing them on the sideline," Cox said. "He's run those routes thousands of times, but he's still out there. It kind of blew me away when I first saw it."

When the defense is practicing and the offense is resting, Gonzalez often asks Cox to throw to him.

"Here's a guy who's already punched his ticket to the Hall of Fame and he's still doing all this. Here I am a rookie, and I haven't accomplished anything in this game yet," Cox said. "It makes me push myself. He's the best tight end who ever played the game and he's out there working harder than anyone.

"I remember I dropped a pass during practice one day. He said, 'I saw that drop. We'd better stay after practice and catch some extra balls.' So we went out there and he ran the route with me about 10 times to show me how to do it," Cox said. "He's a great leader for us by what he does and by what he says.

"The guys on this team want only the best for Tony Gonzalez."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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