With Hunter Henry out for the year, Antonio Gates is the No. 1 tight on the team. And he has a chance to help the Chargers make the playoffs.
Antonio Gates is a legend. A first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Despite his accomplishments, including setting the all-time touchdown record for tight ends in 2017, Gates has regressed. That’s what happens when your’re 37 years old and have played in the NFL for 15 years. Reduced playing time also makes sense when your heir apparent (Hunter Henry) is ready to take over.
And Henry did just that. As the season went on, Gates quickly took a backseat to the second-year pro out of Arkansas. Henry was a big reason why the Chargers are in playoff contention. Unfortunately, Henry is out for the remainder of the season after suffering a minor laceration to his kidney in Week 15’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Now, with the Chargers on the verge of making the postseason for the since time since 2013, Los Angeles needs Gates more than ever. Luckily, he’s fully rested and ready to contribute in a big way.
Don’t believe me? He had a game against the New York Jets on Christmas eve as the No. 1 tight end, finishing with six catches for 81 yards (both season highs) and one touchdown. He looked spry, easily getting open and even making a superb diving catch near the sideline.
It’s fitting, right? This is a guy who’s been through it all with his pal and teammate Philip Rivers. The Chargers should be thankful to have Gates. He’s no longer in his prime, but he’s still a mismatch when on the field, especially with fresh legs.
There’s a good chance he retires after this season. If anyone deserves at shot at winning a championship, it’s Gates.
And he can be be the guy to help bring them there.