Recently-retired tight end Tony Gonzalez told ESPN the Magazine that Atlanta Falcons teammate Matt Ryan is not an elite quarterback and that he was waiting to be traded during the season.
Gonzalez said that while Ryan is better than most quarterbacks in the NFL, he is not at the top tier yet.Follow @SlamSports
"Matt's an excellent quarterback, but he's not elite. He's this close," Gonzalez said while nearly pinching his thumb and index finger together. "He'll get there, but he has some learning to do."
Ryan, 28, signed a five-year, $103.75 million contract extension last summer that is second among quarterbacks. He only trails Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers.
Gonzalez also said he was open to being traded before the Oct. 29 deadline. At that point, the Falcons fell to 2-5 and on their way to a 4-12 record.
"You trade me to a team that needs me, that wants to make a serious run in the playoffs and the Super Bowl," Gonzalez said. "You get something in return for a guy who you know won't be here next year. And the season isn't going anywhere anyway. That's rational."
He said in October that he would "listen" if the Falcons were interested in trading him. According to the ESPN report, he was not happy about not getting sent to a contender.
Gonzalez was reportedly at a restaurant with his wife, expecting to get a call from the Falcons to let him know he was getting dealt, but the call never came.
Gonzalez made 83 receptions for 859 yards and eight touchdowns in his final year and replaced San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis in the Pro Bowl. His 111 career receiving touchdowns are sixth all-time.