The L.A. Chargers general manager Tom Telesco stated Wednesday that the team has contacted former tight end Antonio Gates about returning to the team for the 2018 season.
This is coming on the heels of Gates’s heir-apparent, Hunter Henry, tearing his ACL in voluntary OTA’s last month.
“Obviously, Antonio would be a natural fit,” Telesco told 97.3 The Fan in San Diego (h/t the Los Angeles Daily News‘ Jack Wang). “He’s someone that we have talked to. We’ve talked to his representatives. Sometimes, it’s not just as easy as saying, ‘Hey, let’s just bring him back. Let’s go.'”
It’s easy to see why the Chargers would want Gates to return to the team.
Gates has spent his entire 15-year career with the Chargers. He is the franchise’s leader in receptions (927), receiving yards (11,508) and touchdowns (114). He also has the most touchdowns caught by a tight end in NFL history and is sixth all-time in total touchdown receptions. Gates was also the go-to guy for the team’s other cornerstone player, quarterback Phillip Rivers. These two formed one of the best QB-tight end duos in NFL history.
However, Gates does have some things working against him.
For one, Gates will turn 38 on Monday. That is old for any player that is not a punter or kicker in the NFL. He also has seen a decline in playing time over the past couple of seasons. This is because of injuries, a PED suspension in 2015 and the emergence of Henry. He is also coming off of his worst season, only recording 30 receptions and 316 yards and three touchdowns.
It would be great to see Gates return to the Chargers for one more year of what is surely a hall-of-fame career. He would have the vote of one of his former teammates and partner-in-crime.
“I’d always be excited if he walked back in the door,” Rivers said, per Wang. “…It would get my vote.”
We should hear by training camp of whether we will see Gates back in a navy blue and white jersey for the 2018 season.
Featured Image Credit: (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)