published Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Atlanta Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez signs 1-year extension

ATLANTA — Record-setting tight end Tony Gonzalez has signed a one-year contract extension with the Atlanta Falcons, ending speculation he would retire after the season.

The extension was announced before Sunday’s win over Tampa Bay to wrap up the regular season.

“Very happy to be coming back next year to play. I love everything about the Falcons and the city of Atlanta,” Gonzalez said on his Twitter account Sunday.

The 35-year-old Gonzalez has enjoyed a strong season, starting every game. Entering Sunday’s game, he already had topped his 2010 totals with 79 catches for 867 yards and seven touchdowns. His 79 catches rank third among NFL tight ends.

Now in his 15th season, Gonzalez was chosen to the Pro Bowl for the 12th time this season. His first Pro Bowl season came in 1999, his third season with Kansas City.

General manager Thomas Dimitroff said reaching an agreement with Gonzalez is an important first step in his dealings with the team’s players who can be free agents.

“This wasn’t about which free agent was the most important to secure,” Dimitroff said.

“It’s a good start. It makes things a lot easier to see where we’re going moving forward, trying to get the rest of our deals done. It’s a significant deal and it helps us gauge where we are with the rest of our financial situation.”

Dimitroff said Gonzalez’s excellent conditioning has helped him thrive in Atlanta as one of quarterback Matt Ryan’s favorite targets.

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