It’s only been about three weeks since Hunter Henry was lost for the season and the sting of that injury hasn’t dissipated. In addition, the team has yet to make a move to bring in a new tight end.
When Henry went down, it was instantly assumed that Antonio Gates would be brought into the fold, perhaps even the very next day. When that didn’t happen, the belief was that the team wanted to see what it had in guys like Virgil Green and Sean Culkin before making a panic move.
But now, reports have surfaced that the team has met with Gates about a return. So, what’s the holdup? Why hasn’t No. 85 been given a new deal?
General manager Tom Telesco spoke to 97.3 FM on Wednesday, a San Diego radio station. During that interview, he made reference to the fact that the Chargers have spoken to Gates but that doesn’t necessarily mean a reunion is imminent?
Well, why not?
It’s not like there is a line of teams beating down the door to sign the soon-to-be 38-year old veteran. It seems that if he has any future left in the NFL, it’s in Los Angeles and Los Angeles only. So what’s stopping a deal between the two sides?
Has it occurred to anyone that perhaps Gates isn’t interested in a return? Perhaps, after catching 927 passes for the team and after catching more touchdown passes than any tight end in the history of the league, he feels a little disrespected?
Disrespected due to the fact that the team didn’t even make an effort to keep him in its plans this offseason. Instead, the Chargers signed a guy not necessarily known for his receiving skills (Green) and aside from that, appeared ready to move forward with a group of undrafted players behind Henry.
Then Henry went down and suddenly, Gates sees the Chargers come crawling back.
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Now, that might not necessarily be the reality of the situation, but it could most certainly be Gates’ perception. If it wasn’t, why not just sign a new contract and start planning for the season?
Could the Chargers have asked Gates to stay in shape, promising to return with a deal closer to training camp? Or even closer to the start of the regular season? Sure, that’s possible. But you have to wonder what Telesco meant when he insinuated that it’s not as simple as speaking to a guy and then bringing him right back in.
In cases where an organization isn’t familiar with a player, he’s probably right. But in a case where a team is speaking to a guy who is just about a month removed from a 15-year stint, it doesn’t seem like it should be an issue.
Unless of course, there’s something else at play.