No, Tony is the anomaly.
Shiancoe will be 33 in June. Ben Coates was out of hte league at 32. Jeremy Shockey became a backup at 31 and out of the league at 32. Alge got relegated to just a blocking specialist at 31and was gone by 34. Gates is 32, and it was this past year and the prior year where people were saying he'd lost a couple of steps. Randy McMichael became a backup in SD at 31 and is going on 34 and might stick around for one more year. Like Alge, Kyle Brady hit 31 when he crossed the threshold from competent starter to bad one, and then was a backup the next year.
And Shiancoe was never as good as any of those guys.
That's why outside Jared Cook and Martellus Bennett, who will both only be 26 when draft day rolls around, the Falcons should probably avoid free agency, just because even the best TEs clearly lose a step after age 30. At least with Cook and Bennett, there's the legit chance you could get 4 or 5 good seasons out of them if signed.
But I think people are overrating (a bit) our need at TE. Whoever the TE is probably guaranteed 35 catches given just how Julio and Roddy will be able to free up coverages.
Now Gonzo was targeted like 125 times last year. You look around the league, and average is around 75-80 targets for a starting TE. The point I'm trying to illustrate is how much better Gonzalez was than the rest of the league for 2 reasons: 1) Because it means there is likely to be a significant dropoff in the Falcons passing production and 2) Due to the offense and talent around him, you can get good value at the position without a significant investment.
For the 1st point, that's why I believe it's important for the Falcons to make a significant investment in their running game. To balance things out. You're going to need a REALLY GOOD PLAYER to maintain the status quo. And I think most would agree that if the Falcons didn't have a Top 5 passing attack last year, there's no chance we get anywhere close to as far as we did. Even if we fell to like 8th (which is I think the ballpark we were under Mularkey), it's a drastically different (and lesser) team.
Hell, if they get the right back, and can add a pretty good blocking TE, that will IMO really balance things out.
For the 2nd point, this is just allocating resources. Even a good TE would be highly valuable for the Falcons, but even if you went from Great (Gonzo) to Pretty Good (new guy) like say "Owen Daniels" good, then you're still going to get significant dropoff. So why pay $10 for something where $5 can get the job done, and the extra cost isn't adding a lot to the overall quality.
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.