Gonzalez traded to Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons boosted their hopes for another trip to the playoffs by acquiring tight end Tony Gonzalez from Kansas City yesterday.
The Falcons will send a 2010 second-round pick to the Chiefs in exchange for Gonzalez, the only tight end in NFL history selected to 10 Pro Bowls.
Gonzalez caught 96 passes for 1,058 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2008. He owns NFL career records for tight ends with 916 receptions, 10,940 yards receiving, 76 TD catches, and 26 100-yard receiving games.
"I love Kansas City," Gonzalez said. "The fans have been unbelievable to me. I'm going to miss them. This is a happy day for me, but in many ways it's a sad day, too. I'm going to miss running out of that tunnel and seeing that sea of red in those stands."
When he was drafted in the first round out of California, passing up his senior season, he had just turned 21.
"And now I'm leaving at 33. It's been a huge part of my life," he said. "When I retire, I'm going to retire a Chief. It's been a beautiful, beautiful ride in Kansas City. I'm not selling my home there."
Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli said it wasn't easy to trade the star, who played in 188 regular-season games for Kansas City.
"From an organizational as well as personal standpoint there are mixed emotions," Pioli said. "I have the highest personal and professional respect for Tony and consider him to be a future Pro Football Hall of Famer."
Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt called Gonzalez "one of the finest players in Chiefs history."
Gonzalez will provide a dramatic new look for the Falcons, who were 11-5 last year with rookie quarterback Matt Ryan starting every game.
"Tony's arrival will make an instant impact not only on the offensive side of the ball, but on the overall team in general," said Ryan. "I feel privileged to be throwing the ball to a future Hall of Famer and I'm anxious to get on the field to start working with him."
"It's all about being able to know that I can finish my career here in Carolina," Delhomme said. "That's what I've wanted, all I've ever wanted."
The deal includes $20 million in guaranteed money and clears much-needed salary cap space for Carolina. Delhomme was to count for more than $10 million under the cap next season in the final year of his deal.
The Panthers' cap is weighed down by Julius Peppers's one-year tender under the franchise tag that is worth $16.7 million and has prevented any offseason signings.
Delhomme's extension comes just over three months after his nightmare performance. After a strong season following reconstructive elbow surgery the year before, Delhomme threw five interceptions and lost a fumble in Carolina's 33-13 loss to Arizona in the NFC Divisional playoffs.
"We all know last year was a good year that ended terribly," Delhomme said. "Nobody was more disappointed than I was for not putting my team in a position to win."