Dec 22, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates (85) is defended by Oakland Raiders linebacker Nick Roach (53) during the first half at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Will 2014 Be The Last For Antonio Gates in A Chargers Uniform?

Antonio Gates has had a Hall of Fame type of career for the San Diego Chargers. He has helped mold the way the tight end position is used in the game today and is one of the best pass catching tight ends ever to play the game. At some point, we have to wonder how much longer he will be able to produce.

Gates is 33 years old now and has a couple of years left on his contract. His contract is one of the highest on the Chargers roster and his production is on a downward trend. If the team were to released him after the 2014 season, the Chargers would save over $5 million in cap space. It is very possible that 2014 will be the last season for Antonio Gates in a Chargers uniform.

The Chargers already have the future grooming behind Gates on the roster. Ladarius Green is just waiting for his opportunity to produce. In 2014, Green will likely find himself more involved on offense and he will get his opportunity to take the starting job. The passing of the torch is already in progress.

Enjoy watching Antonio Gates in 2014, it could be his last one with the Chargers.

If he were released, would Antonio Gates retire or would he join another team?

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  • Julien Bélair

    I kind of hope it is. He will retire after

  • Conor Cahill

    Probably retire. He played well earlier in the year though. The dude still draws double teams on almost every play.

  • blackroseMD1

    Probably, although he did have 77 catches for 872 yards this year. Most other years, that would have been tops on the team.

    • Mark Viguri

      Heard a stat that Gates has never caught a TD pass in a playoff game. Can that actually be true?

      • blackroseMD1

        According to ESPN stats, he had one in 2004.

  • Stefanie Smith

    No. At least I hope not. This is not how you treat your great players.

    • Peter Thompson

      This is one we can both agree on Stef. He HAS to retire a lightning bolt!

  • Calman21

    Hopefully he retires a Charger…but he is likely going to have to renegotiate his contract if he wants to keep playing here after next year. TT and MM are going to do what is necessary to have the best team. If that includes cutting a star because their production doesn’t justify their salary then so be it. I could see him retiring next year.

    • Stefanie Smith

      The debate begins. Fans don’t think Ronnie Brown was good, but TT and McCoy raved about him. Same for Gates. And no, there is more to think about here. Part of the team, as it is a business, is its “brand”. Gates, Rivers and maybe Weddle are part of the Chargers’ brand. They still associate LT as a Charger.

      Heck, if you are realistic about it, TT and McCoy are a whole lot less of a Charger than Antonio Gates. It’s similar to how the Ravens handled the Ray Lewis retirement. And you better believe that the Spanos family has a say on this matter. You don’t just kick out part of your franchise identity out the door.

      Just remember. TT and McCoy are simply employees. They don’t own the Chargers.

      • Calman21

        I doubt they kick him out the door. I would believe that they will do what they can to retain him. But, if he is too expensive as compared to his production then he will be let go if he will not work out a new deal. MM and TT job is to make this team successful…that is really their only job. Spanos will have a say, but if TT and MM can sell Spanos on their decision then it really will not matter what any of us think or Gates for that matter. All that aside, I seriously doubt they screw him over and will likely give him every opportunity to stay with the team at a reasonable rate. But right now you have a up and coming TE that is wasting snaps on the sideline when he could be playing (and for a lot less). You have to take that into account because it is a business and they will generally try to do what is better for them in the long run.

        Ronnie Brown shouldn’t even be in this discussion, he was good for what he is but that is it (also no where near the same cap hit). Fans can love or hate him as they like but it is not the same.

        • Stefanie Smith

          Green should not be wasting away on the sidelines. Use a two TE set like New England did with Hernandez and Gronk. Can’t blame that on Gates. If Green is wasting away, then I’d say that is a non-creative, non-progressive coach somewhere on the Chargers.

        • arnie

          I agree, there in lies the issue. If we look at his production as far as number go, yeah he isn’t worth the money. In context he was “always” double teamed and there was no real vertical threat, to take that coverage off Gates. In that light he is worth every penny. The message was clear, teams were going to take Gates away, an make the Chargers beat them with someone else. Because if they didn’t, it would be Rivers to Gates all day.
          The reality i’m trying to point out is, Telesco is a smart man and he will do his job. If the the goal is to save money? There are plenty of other places to look on the roster. At the ned of the day gates will be given an opportunity to compete, and i’m confident he will come out on top. With that said, it will be Telesco’s job to find someone to be a deep threat an take the double coverage off Gates. An Reich’s job to design more creative ways to get Gates the ball, against defense that are determined to keep it away from him.

  • RussinSactown

    If he wanted to continue playing, hopefully Gates and Telesco could restructure his contract so he can finish as a Charger.

  • Stefanie Smith

    Man, I hope Antonio is golfing somewhere and he doesn’t see this stuff.

    • Mark Viguri

      Me too

  • Nick Mansoor

    I really think that he will be back after his contract for one more year. But if we do i think that Green will have taken the starting position by that time, so the following season will be a definite release. And i do hope he retires, because i would HATE to see Gates in another jersey. and do keep this in mind, Tony Gonzalez was able to keep the tires rolling until the age of 37, i don’t think Gates will stay that late, but id expect until he is 35/36.

  • Mark Viguri

    Sorry to all the Homers, yes I understand it’s blasphemy but let’s be real Ladarius should have been the starter this year. Other than Marshall Faulk excepting a back seat to Steven Jackson in St Louis I can’t think of another legend, another Superstar / 1st ballot H.O.Fer who gave up starting and remained on the same team. Gates seems like a humble man but you know it must take a monster ego to be the best. Just imagine the year Ladarius Green could of had if Gates had been cut? Even if the Chargers aren’t soooooo strapped for cash a move would probably be a win win for all.

  • Sergio Quintero

    What is the GM theory on players: “You cut a player one year early, rather than one year late”, situation a franchise like the Patriots specializes in. Is 2014 his last as a Charger, its a virtual lock, GM’s if they are good at their job pay for future production, not past accomplishments, they get paid to be cold hearted bastards.

    But the Spanos can be romantics and surprising loyal, there was the rumor that A.J. Smith wanted to trade LT at the end 2007, and franchise tag Michael Turner, but was overruled by the owners, so don’t surprised if Gates finds a reprieve.

  • navw21

    If next year is his last year in a Bolts uniform Im okay with that. I would just hate to see him in any other uniform. Same way it was with LT.

  • Peter Thompson

    I would give the chop to a lot of players. Gates would not be one of them. Every team has a player, at some point in its existence, that rides it until the end… even when their best days are behind them. They may not be what they once were, but because they are special, they don’t hurt the team. Sure, they could get a younger, faster, newer model in there.. but, they don’t, because some things mean more than business. The players play harder, so they don’t have to constantly lean on him like they once used to. Like they once HAD to. They play hard for him, because they see themselves in 10 years, and would want to be treated fairly. It reminds me of when you are faced with putting your grandpa in the home, or letting him die with dignity in his own house. I don’t care what other teams or players did at the end of their careers. This is the new Chargers. Antonio Gates will retire a Charger, as he should.. because he was something special to us, the team, and the city. And if he doesn’t.. there is something very wrong with this franchise.

    Thanks for the countless memories, and years of dedication to our city Mr. Gates! You’re tops with me.

  • tbell11

    Gates will be a Charger until his contract is up or if he retires next year. The Chargers can give Green a heavier workload next year, but Gates will always be a threat in the passing game. Use more double TE sets if they have too.

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  • Stefanie Smith

    People complaining that Green is wasting away on the sidelines because of Gates–think again. Try using both of them like New England did with Gronk and Hernandez. If the Chargers aren’t doing that, that is not the fault of Gates. It is the fault of a noncreative offensive staff.

    • Ernie Padaon

      i can agree with that. i wish we did

    • Mark Viguri

      That’s what I assumed good old Norval was going to do back in 2012, a lot of 2 TE sets with Gates and Green. However Tom Telesco signed Dallas TE John Phillips and if there were 2 TE’s on the field John was usually one of them until he got hurt. Probably because Gates has never been known for is blocking. I just don’t see Gates taking a back seat next year.