The Chargers and Antonio Gates are getting back together. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets that the Bolts and the future Hall-of-Famer have agreed to a deal that will allow Gates to return to LA. Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network adds (via Twitter) that the pact includes some reachable incentives to make it worth Gates’ while.
After young tight end Hunter Henry went down with a torn ACL in May, the Chargers, who had previously told Gates that he would not be re-signed for a 16th season with the club, reconsidered their position. The two sides have been in contact over the past several months, and while the Chargers had hoped to have Gates in the fold before training camp, they were finally able to get a deal done today.
The 38-year-old is coming off a career-low 316 receiving yards, but the rapport between him and quarterback Philip Rivers cannot be understated. And while Gates is obviously not the same player he was in his prime, he still represents a credible receiving threat at the tight end position, which the playoff-hopeful Chargers desperately needed. Although the club has plenty of talent at the wide receiver and running back positions, having a security blanket like Gates will help the offense reach its full potential.
Gates’ accomplishments in the league are well-known. The former basketball star has amassed over 11,500 receiving yards, third-highest among tight ends in league history, to go along with 114 touchdowns, three First Team All-Pro bids, and eight Pro Bowls.
The Chargers are still hopeful that Henry could return late in the season, and if he does, that will make the team all the more threatening down the stretch and potentially into the postseason.
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