Gonzalez Should End Career In KC

Sooner or later, an NFL player's career with the team that drafted him has to come to an end. That might be the case for several Chiefs this year, but one of them was not supposed to be Pro-Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez.

After KC's 35-28 victory on Sunday over the Seattle Seahawks, the focal point of the Chiefs' passing attack the last ten years can void his final year of his contract that was supposed to pay him $6.5 million in 2007.

Any Chiefs fans who are worried that Gonzalez might leave Kansas City for Denver need to relax. First and foremost, this talk is anything but unusual for Gonzalez. He's had contract battles with the organization since he was drafted. In fact, his first agent, the infamous Leigh Steinberg, negotiated his first contract well into training camp.

Back in 2002, he held out for a new deal and signed shortly before the season opener, only to play one whale of a game against Cleveland in the infamous ‘Dwayne Rudd' game. But those contract negotiations became very personal and very public. The Chiefs have the trump card with Gonzalez because they can franchise him and he'll remain their property.

"I would love to end my career in Kansas City," Gonzalez told reporters after the game on Sunday.

The question now is will the Chiefs offer him another big contract this late in his career. That might depend on how well he finishes the season. To his credit, I don't think many players work as hard as Gonzalez when it comes to practice time and preparation for an upcoming season or game.

He usually stays after practice and catches another 100 balls. During games he is always catching passes to stay loose and sharp. The bottom line is he is still a very talented tight end and a tireless worker.

But the Chiefs are a different team now than they were when Gonzalez was in his prime. The offense has changed, and the philosophy is different. Both should benefit Gonzalez this season as he hopes to regain the form that made him the most feared tight end in the business. While he's been the All-Pro player we've seen in the past over the last two games, he's still not been totally happy about his role in the offense in recent years.

Part of the problem for Gonzalez and the Chiefs is Trent Green's injury. Compounding that problem was Willie Roaf's retirement and Mike Solari's maturation as an offensive coordinator.

But more importantly, the Chiefs don't have a solid passing game until they establish the run. With the offensive line struggling early, the Chiefs were forced to get the running game going, and they've done that in recent weeks as Larry Johnson appears to be out of his early-season funk.

Now that the passing game is flourishing, Gonzalez, along with Eddie Kennison, are two huge reasons why the offense has scored at least 30 points in back-to-back wins over talented defenses.

Still that might not be enough for Gonzalez, who has made threats before that he'd like to leave. On the other hand, he's also given plenty of hints that he'd like to retire in the only NFL uniform he's ever worn.

"I'm a realist and know how the business side of the NFL works," said Gonzalez. "With that in mind I know anything is possible. I wouldn't be surprised if we got something worked out, but I also wouldn't be surprised if I had to end up going somewhere else, either."

So once again, Gonzalez has drawn a line in the sand. Each time the Chiefs and Carl Peterson have crossed it and worked something out.

Clearly, Gonzalez is not done, nor are all of his best playing days behind him. He still has value, and he deserves to play out his career as a Chief.

My guess is that will happen, even if things look bad early on in negotiations. Some guys just don't look good in any other NFL uniform. Gonzalez was meant to wear a Chiefs uniform all the way into the NFL Hall of Fame.

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