The 10 best tight ends in the history of the LA Chargers

San Diego Chargers v Oakland Raiders
San Diego Chargers v Oakland Raiders / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

The tight end position has drastically evolved throughout the history of the NFL. In today's game, having a tight end who can be an elite pass-catching weapon is a massive boost but that was not always the case. For many years, an elite tight end was determined by their blocking ability, not their pass-catching ability.

But as is the case with everything in the sports world, the position has evolved. The Chargers have been a key part of that evolution as the franchise boasts two of the most impressive and influential tight ends in NFL history.

The two greatest tight ends in Chargers history might be easy to pinpoint, so much so that the tight ends below them tend to get overlooked. Let's dive into the other tight ends who deserve to be highlighted on the franchise's top-10 list.

Criteria for selection:

Career receiving numbers are a great baseline to start this list but it does not paint the entire picture. While tight ends are important players in the passing game, it is also important to factor in their blocking ability and the impact these players have beyond catching passes.

It goes deeper than just numbers and production on the field, though. Certain players have advantages based on the era they played, so it is important to factor in how they compared to their peers at the time. Accolades such as Pro Bowl nods and All-Pro teams are the best way to measure this.

The top 10 tight ends in Chargers history:

10. Gerald Everett

It gets pretty thin for the tight end position at the tail end of this list, hence why Gerald Everett made the cut after just two seasons with the Chargers. Everett signed with the Chargers prior to the 2022 season and left after the 2023 season as he joined Keenan Allen on the Chicago Bears.

Everett benefits from playing in a passing era and having a quarterback who threw the ball a lot in Justin Herbert. Without those two factors, there is no shot he would have made this list after just two seasons with the Bolts.

However, because of this, Everett ended his Chargers career with the seventh-most receiving yards per game among tight ends (doing so while being the third option in most games). Everett is one of just 11 tight ends in franchise history to have at least 960 career receiving yards and seven or more touchdowns.

9. Pete Holohan

Pete Holohan was drafted into one of the greatest offenses in NFL history, the Air Coryell offense (more on that later). Holohan was taken in the seventh round to bolster a tight end room that already included Kellen Winslow and that year's fourth-round pick, Eric Sievers.

Holohan may have never been the tight end in San Diego but he played a key role alongside Sievers and Winslow. Together, the trio made up a truly historic tight end room that was well ahead of its time.

Holohan ended up playing seven years in San Diego and he finished with more prolific receiving numbers than Sievers did. Holohan's 734 yards in 1984 is far more than Sievers ever had with the Chargers.

8. Eric Sievers

Eric Sievers played for the Chargers in eight of his 10 seasons in the NFL yet his best year came with a different team. After being hit-and-miss for the Bolts throughout the 1980s, Sievers crossed the 600-yard mark with the New England Patriots in 1989.

After posting just 449 combined receiving yards in his first two seasons, Sievers was able to surpass the 400-yard mark in three consecutive years from 1983 to 1985. Like Holohon, his overall numbers were lower because he played behind an all-time great.

While his receiving numbers are not as good as his draft class partner, Sievers played a more important role in the Chargers' offense with his blocking ability. For thar reason, he checks in as the eighth-best tight end in franchise history.

7. Hunter Henry

Hunter Henry really had a chance to move up the all-time tight end rankings for the Bolts if he would have stayed healthy and stayed with the team after his first five years. Granted, the Chargers were never going to pay him the premium salary the New England Patriots gave him but it is still a big what-if.

Henry finished his Chargers career with the sixth-most receiving yards among Chargers tight ends and he reasonably could have climbed into the top three if he had three more solid seasons. His 21 receiving touchdowns is the fourth-most among Chargers tight ends and he did so in only 55 games. The three tight ends ahead of Henry all played 80 or more games.

If the Chargers can add another tight end like Henry who sticks around for more than two seasons then it would be huge in today's modern offense. Henry was a great blend of being a pass-catching weapon and a positive blocking presence, earning his spot on this list.

6. Freddie Jones

Freddie Jones essentially has the career numbers Henry would have finished with if he did not battle injuries throughout his Chargers tenure. Henry averaged slightly more receiving yards per game (mostly due to the era and his quarterback situation) but Jones finished with 608 more receiving yards. One more fully healthy season for Henry would have given him around 600 more receiving yards.

Jones' 20 extra games at a similar production level earns him one spot ahead of Henry on this list. The 1997 second-round pick was a consistent presence in the passing game (even when the quarterback play was inconsistent). In a better situation, Jones' numbers would have been even higher.

5. Willie Frazier

Willie Frazier was one of the best early tight ends in the history of the sport. Frazier finished his career with great numbers for his era but they all didn't come with the Chargers or else he would have ranked higher on this list.

Frazier was a three-time AFL all-star and was named to the All-AFL First Team once. Two of his all-star nods came when he was with the Chargers but his lone All-AFL First Team nod came when he was a member of the Houston Oilers instead.

Frazier's numbers may not compare favorably to some of the more modern tight ends on this list simply because of the era he played in but it is impossible to deny his impact. He was one of the best tight ends in the sport for his era and that earns him a spot in the franchise's top five.

4. Jacque MacKinnon

Jacque MacKinnon might be the most unique player on this list as he was a hybrid of a tight end and fullback-style back for the Chargers. In addition to his receiving stats, MacKinnon also carried the ball 86 times for 381 yards and two touchdowns.

Most of his snaps came as a traditional tight end, though, and he was ahead of the curve compared to his peers. This is the perfect example of accolades meaning more than raw numbers as MacKinnon ranks sixth among all tight ends in franchise history in receiving yards.

However, he was named an AFL all-star twice in his career, which gives him the nod over the five tight ends ranked below him. MacKinnon was an all-star in 1966 and 1968, finishing with a combined 1,123 yards and 12 touchdowns in those two seasons.

3. Dave Kocourek

Dave Kocourek is the first tight end in franchise history as he was with the team for its inaugural season in 1960. Kocourek spent one season in the Canadian Football League prior to joining the Chargers in the AFL.

In his six seasons with the Chargers, Kocourek was a four-time AFL all-star and was a key part of the franchise's lone championship team in 1963. Kocourek didn't do much in the AFL Championship Game, though, as he finished with just one catch for five yards.

As great as he was for the Chargers, Kocourek never actually played in the NFL. He spent one season with the Miami Dolphins and two seasons with the Oakland Raiders after leaving San Diego. In total, he played in seven different AFL Championship games, which is the most all-time.

2. Kellen Winslow

Kellen Winslow was a key part of one of the most influential offenses in the history of football. Alongside quarterback Dan Fouts and head coach Don Coryell, Winslow helped change the sport completely as teams completely changed how they approached offense.

The Air Coryell offense truly took the league by storm and led the Chargers to several successful seasons in the 1980s. The team was ultimately held back by its awful defense but it remains one of the most innovative offenses in league history.

Winslow's role in the Air Coryell offense cemented him into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Winslow was a five-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro, and at the time of his retirement, he was third all-time in receiving yards among tight ends.

1. Antonio Gates

Kellen Winslow would be the No. 1 ranked tight end in the history of just about any other franchise. That's because very few franchises have had a tight end who was as great and influential to the sport as Antonio Gates.

The undrafted former collegiate basketball player redefined what it means to be a tight end in a vertical offense. His rapport with Philip Rivers created one of the greatest duos in league history. Only Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski had more touchdown connections than Rivers and Gates.

Gates is one of the greatest tight ends to ever play the sport and it is criminal he was not inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on his first ballot in 2024.

The 10 best tight ends in Chargers history by receiving yards:



Years with Chargers

Receiving yards


Antonio Gates




Kellen Winslow




Dave Kocourek




Freddie Jones




Hunter Henry




Jacque MacKinnon




Pete Holohan




Willie Frazier




Eric Sievers




Pat Curran