It's official: Tony Gonzalez will return for a 17th NFL season.
The Atlanta Falcons tight end, who had insisted all last season that he would likely retire, has decided to wipe away the tears, overcome the heartache and take one last shot at the elusive Super Bowl.
Gonzalez, who has never played in a Super Bowl, ended weeks of speculation with a tweet on Tuesday: "I'm happy to say that after speaking with my family, I'm coming back.
He added: "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!"
Hours before the announcement, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday that Gonzalez had given his agent, Tom Condon, the green light to talk to the team about a new contract. The person requested anonymity because the talks had not been made public.
Obviously, the talks were fruitful.
With the free-agent market to open at 4 p.m. ET Tuesday, the Falcons wanted clarity about a wavering Gonzalez, whose contract had expired.
The team Gonzalez is returning to is not the same team he left. Michael Turner, John Abraham and Dunta Robinson were cut in moves to save salary cap room - in other words, to help hike Gonzalez's pay for 2013.
Former NFL quarterback Warren Moon said he had lunch with Gonzalez three weeks ago, and Moon came away convinced Gonzalez would return for a 17th NFL season, given the right defensive improvements by the Falcons.
"I think he's going to come back. I think he's leaning very, very heavily that way,'' Moon told USA TODAY Sports. "He definitely wants that ring - that's the thing that keeps biting at him about whether he comes back or not.
"The thing he's really looking at: If they make the changes to make their team better on the defensive side of the ball, if they can do that, I think he'll come back.''
The Falcons finished 24th in overall defense during the regular season.
"If they don't make any changes on that side of the ball and get better over there ... I don't think he wants to go through that again,'' Moon said. These next three or four days are going to tell a lot about his decision."
Gonzalez's 19-yard reception on Matt Ryan's slant pass set up Matt Bryant's winning field goal for Atlanta's 30-28 divisional playoff win against Seattle. The tight end wept after that first playoff win of his 16-season career.
Gonzalez had 14 postseason catches, including two for touchdowns, coming off a 93-reception, eight-touchdown regular season. He earned $4.9 million last season, and coach Mike Smith said at the scouting combine that it would help the team to learn Gonzalez's decision "sooner rather than later.''
Moon said he had an inkling: "He's starting to feel those juices again and he's had a chance to rest and heal up."
Contributing: Jim Corbett, USA TODAY Sports