In April, the Los Angeles Chargers parted ways with team icon and future Hall of Fame tight end Antonio Gates after 15 seasons together.
Now quarterback Philip Rivers wants him back.
“I would always be excited if he walked back in the door,” Rivers told reporters Tuesday. “That’s something that [general manager] Tom [Telesco] and [president] John [Spanos] and coach and those guys will I’m sure discuss and see about bringing anybody in for that matter. But certainly, he’d get my vote.”
Gates, 37, understandably saw his production decline from Pro Bowl levels to tallying 30 catches for 316 yards and three touchdowns last season with the Chargers. The emergence of second-year tight end Hunter Henry made the veteran expendable this offseason.
Chargers have tight-end need after Hunter Henry injury
But Henry suffered a season-ending ACL tear during OTAs on May 22, leaving a gap at tight end on the Chargers depth chart.
Seven-year veteran Virgil Green would presumably fill Henry’s spot as the No. 1 tight end option. Green has no track record of being a go-to tight end with 71 catches for 807 yards and four touchdowns since joining the league in 2011. Braeden Bowman and Sean Culkin, neither of whom have noteworthy NFL experience, are also on the Chargers roster.
Gates, Rivers have stayed in touch
Rivers, who has connected with Gates for the majority of his eight-time Pro Bowl career, has stayed in touch with his former teammate since he became a free agent.
“[Gates] is doing good,” Rivers said. “I think this time of year for him, even in this last few years of his career, I don’t know that he’s doing a ton different then he was. He stayed ready. He wasn’t here a ton this time of year. He was always getting himself ready with him family, with his children. I’m sure he’s in shape and will be ready if called on and that’s something he’s interested in.”
Gates has career totals of 927 catches for 11,508 yards and a tight end record 114 touchdowns, all with the Chargers.
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