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Gonzalez forced Falcons’ hand by not filing retirement papers

NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Atlanta Falcons

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 20: An Atlanta Falcons fan holds up a sign for tight end Tony Gonzalez #88 after the Falcons were defeated 28-24 by the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game at the Georgia Dome on January 20, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

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So why did the Falcons feel compelled to cut retired tight end Tony Gonzalez on Tuesday?

Per a league source, Gonzalez was due to receive a substantial bonus if on the roster as of Thursday. The Falcons had assumed that Gonzalez would file retirement papers, which would eliminate the bonus.

The only problem? Gonzalez hasn’t filed his retirement papers.

And possibly all that that implies.

It forced the team’s hand. And it now gives Gonzalez maximum flexibility for 2014, in the event he decides to pull a Brett Favre and return. He won’t have to clear waivers, he won’t have to force a trade.

Even if he doesn’t intend to come back, it makes sense that he has put himself in position where he has the widest possible range of options for the coming season.