Chargers Tell Antonio Gates They Don't Want Him Back

Hall of Fame tight end still wants to play but it won't be with the Bolts

After the Chargers moved to Los Angeles, many of their old fans in San Diego decided to support the team because of two reasons:

Antonio Gates and Philip Rivers.

Now that list has been trimmed to one.

The Chargers have told Gates that they do not plan to re-sign him for the 2018 season, which would have been his 16th with the franchise. Gates signed as an undrafted free agent before the 2003 season and the very next year started a string of eight straight Pro Bowl appearances.

No tight end in NFL history has caught more touchdown passes than Antonio Gates, who is almost guaranteed to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. In 2017 Gates took a back seat to young tight end Hunter Henry in the Chargers offense but after Henry went down with a late-season injury the 38-year-old flashed some of his old form, catching six passes for 81 yards and a touchdown against the Jets.

After the season finale, a win over the Raiders, Gates hinted that his late-season performance had him thinking he might want to play another year. The Chargers informing him in the middle of the draft, more than a month after the start of the free agency period, may hinder his ability to sign with another team.

Gates might have chances to continue his career elsewhere. Here are two intriguing possibilities:

Cowboys tight end and fellow future Hall of Famer Jason Witten is planning to announce his retirement so Dallas might be a landing spot. The New England Patriots, who found out recently that Rob Gronkowski does plan to play this year, also have a history of signing veteran players for one last hurrah and head coach Bill Belichick has long been a fan of Gates.

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