How much does Antonio Gates have left in the tank?
By Nick Matt
Nobody inside the San Diego Chargers organization was happier when 36-year-old Antonio Gates was re-signed to a two-year deal than long time teammate, Philip Rivers. The Chargers gave the fans what they wanted and that was to see Gates finish his career where it all started, in America’s finest city, San Diego. The duo of Rivers and Gates have excited Chargers fans for 13 years and it’s a relief to never have to see Gates wear any other team’s jersey. I Would love to see a class act like Gates hoist a Lombardi trophy before he hangs up his cleats.
More from LA Chargers News
- LA Chargers: 3 early takeaways from 2021 minicamp thus far
- LA Chargers: Drue Tranquill takes a jab at Gus Bradley’s defense
- LA Chargers second-year players: Nothing to lose and a lot to gain
- LA Chargers: Why running back could be a big issue for the Bolts
- LA Chargers: Chris Rumph’s upside is Melvin Ingram-like, but better
Gates is top 5 in most offensive categories at the tight end position in NFL history, to think he made it to NFL stardom the hard way. He was a standout basketball player at Kent State University and tried his hand at football and the rest is history. Gates was signed as an undrafted free agent and became a household name not long after. Skyrocketing from an unknown commodity to the league’s best at his position for the better part of a decade is not an easy task. The 8-time Pro Bowler is primed to end his career on top and his numbers in 2014 prove that he still has some juice left in the tank. In 2014, Gates caught 12 touchdown passes, a season he dedicated to his younger sister after her battle with Lupus ended prior to opening kickoff. Last year he only caught five TD passes and he missed four games due to a suspension. Clearly, Gates can still play in the NFL. The question is, what will his production be when he turns 37 and 38 years old.
The addition of Hunter Henry in the second round of the NFL draft, will help Gates stay fresh on critical third-and-goal conversions. Henry can step in and play a majority of the snaps because he has soft hands and can block. We have not seen the last of the combination of Rivers and Gates. They look to build on their 77 combined touchdowns together, which is most all-time for a quarterback/tight end combination. With Ken Whisenhunt back in the mix as the offensive coordinator, he will find ways to keep Gates fresh and he’ll be creative in his play calling. Gates has enough left in the tank to go out on a high note. He will be in the Chargers Ring of Honor and eventually be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Chargers fans have been lucky enough to witness one of the greatest tight ends of all time. It would be great to see Gates and the Chargers win a Super Bowl before he ends his brilliant career.