The San Diego Chargers should most definitely re-sign their all-pro tight end Antonio Gates. He has formed such a bond with Philip Rivers, that it would be foolish to allow him to walk away from the team.
I understand Gates is getting up there in age, but he can still be productive. Especially around the end zone and on third downs. His speed is gone, but he still has the ability to get open. His basketball skills are still effective and more often that not he is a defensive matchup nightmare for opponents.
The PED suspension of Gates clouds what would probably be a first ballot hall-of-fame career. Still when it is all said and done he should have no problem being enshrined in the hall. The 13-year veteran has amassed 10,664 yards in his career and has scored 104 touchdowns. He was once considered the best tight end in the game of football and if not for Tony Gonzalez, he might be the best all time.
The Chargers legend is an unrestricted free-agent, but there are already early reports that the Chargers and Gates are working on a deal for the 2016 season. It remains to be seen if the Bolts will give him a two-year deal, but if the terms are team friendly, that might be possible. Gates is 35 and plays a very physical position. He has performed well despite his age, but clearly his best years are behind him.
The Chargers have the flexibility to retain Gates financially, but they also have to deal with Ladarius Green who is also a free agent. Green is much younger than Gates at 25 years of age. He clearly hasn’t put it all together yet, but with his young age he could still blossom. The best case scenario for Chargers fans is to resign both tight ends.
The team has many issues and shouldn’t have to worry about the tight end position. I would expect both players will be retained, but in the end Green could make more money than Gates. His youth should factor into the Chargers decision to retain him. Green already has worked with Philip Rivers and the two are comfortable with each other. Rivers is already losing Malcom Floyd to retirement so he needs all the familiar faces he can get in the Chargers huddle.
Retaining Gates should be a top priority. He made seven million dollars last season and will likely take a pay cut of some sort. He could get more money on the open market, but he knows that the familiarity he has with Rivers cannot be found anywhere else. Gates has a year or two of football left in him and those years should still be relatively productive. The key is to have a backup for Gates and in reality maybe two decent other options at tight end. Keeping Gates fresh could be the key to a playoff run in the 2016 season.
So it is obvious that Antonio Gates should be retained. Tom Telesco knows that if he leaves, Chargers fans would riot in Mission Valley. I understand the team has to be frugal with their money for the 2016 season, but signing Antonio Gates is a no-brainer. The Chargers have a history of mistreating veteran players, hopefully this will not be the case with Mr. Gates. Indications are a contract could be signed this week. We can all be hopeful those rumors come true.