With NFL free agency only hours away a new report says tight end Tony Gonzalez has told the Atlanta Falcons that he will come back to play the 2013 season. The news was first reported by FoxSports.com.

After a loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, it looked like Gonzalez would retire, but after getting cleared to return by his doctors the 36-year-old tight end will be back suiting up for the Falcons next season.

“After discussing it with my family and really, truly struggling with this decision I informed the Falcons I would like to return for one more shot,” Gonzalez told Fox Sports.

Gonzalez had eight catches for 72 yards in the Falcons NFC Championship Game loss, including a 10-yard touchdown reception with 25 seconds remaining in the first half. The Falcons didn’t score again and the longtime veteran was denied his first trip to the Super Bowl.

“Considering how this season ended, I wanted to give it another run with Matt (Ryan), Smitty (head coach Mike Smith) and the guys we have in there,” Gonzalez said. “It was the first time I had won a playoff game and hopefully coming back once more we can take it one step further.”

Gonzalez is the all-time leading receiver among tight ends and is second only to Jerry Rice in all time receptions with 1,242.

The legendary receiver said he thought his mind was made up in the other direction and was ready to hang up his cleats for good, but the lure of getting to his first Super Bowl seemed too close to pass up.

“I was done, I thought I had my mind made up,” said Gonzalez. “This whole year I knew it would be my last but the way our final game ended and talking to all the guys in the locker room, in the end it was too difficult of a way for me to step away from the game. It’s not often in a career you’re around a group like we have down in Atlanta.”

Earlier Tuesday, USA Today Sports reported that Gonzalez had given agent Tom Condon the OK to negotiate a contract with the Falcons.

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