The San Diego Chargers have had star tight end Antonio Gates as one of the faces of their franchise for many years. That may come to an end this offseason as Gates is set to hit unrestricted free agency. While there is a chance he will end up leaving, the Chargers still want to try and bring him back.
According to a report from the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Chargers are set to meet with Gates during the NFL Draft combine in Indianapolis.
Gates is open to testing free agency, although it seems obvious that he would prefer to re-sign with San Diego. He isn’t going to re-sign with them for an unfair deal, but the Chargers know that losing him would be a devastating blow to their fan base. It is unknown what kind money Gates is looking for, but it will likely be a very reasonable deal.
Throughout the 190 career games that Gates has played with the Chargers, he has caught 844 passes for 10,644 yards and 104 touchdowns. There are very few tight ends in the history of the NFL that have had bigger careers than the one that Gates is currently working on.
At 35-years-old, Gates still has plenty of football left in the tank. During the 2015 season despite dealing with a couple nagging injuries that forced him to miss some time, Gates caught 56 passes for 630 yards and five touchdowns. He could have put up much better numbers had he not run into a few injuries.
Standing in at 6-foot-4 and 255 pounds, Gates is still more than capable of giving his quarterback a mismatch option in most games.
Philip Rivers and Gates have made an excellent team over the years. It would seem strange to see Rivers stay in San Diego without Gates. While it doesn’t seem too likely that Gates will end up leaving, this meeting needs to go well and the Chargers have to come in with a respectful and reasonable offer.
Expect to hear plenty more news about the Chargers and Gates as free agency gets geared up to start.