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NFL: Gonzalez puts off retirement to stay with Falcons


Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez has changed his mind about retirement, saying Tuesday he will rejoin the NFL club after falling one game short of reaching last month's Super Bowl.

Gonzalez, second on the all-time NFL receptions list to Jerry Rice with 1,242 catches, confirmed in a Twitter message that he will return next season to the Falcons, who lost to San Francisco in January's conference finals.

"I'm happy to say that after speaking with my family, I'm coming back," Gonzalez wrote. "The lure of being on such a great team and organization, along with unbelievable fan support was too good to pass up. We have a great shot to get to the Super Bowl, RISE UP ATLANTA!"

Tuesday marked the first day players can sign free agent deals and trades can be formally finalized for the 2013 campaign.

Among deals expected to be confirmed were receiver Percy Harvin's reported trade from Minnesota to Seattle and Baltimore receiver Anquan Boldin's reported trade from Super Bowl winner Baltimore to Super Bowl loser San Francisco.

The Baltimore Ravens also signed safety James Ihedigbo to a one-year contract. Ihedigbo, born to Nigerian immigrants, made 25 tackles in 16 games last season, his first with the Ravens.

Gonzalez, who turned 37 last month, has spent the past four seasons with the Falcons, last season making 93 catches for 930 yards and eight touchdowns.

"We are very pleased that Tony has decided to come back for another season," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "He has been a key component to our success during his four years and it is great to have the opportunity to coach him for a fifth season."

Gonzalez holds most major NFL tight end records, including career receiving yards with 14,268, most touchdown catches at 103 and most receptions in a season with 102 in 2004.

In four seasons with the Falcons after a dozen seasons with Kansas City, Gonzalez has recorded 326 receptions for 3,328 yards with 27 touchdowns.

"Tony has been vital to our success over the last four seasons and we are excited that he has decided to return," Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said.