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Report: Antonio Gates returns to Chargers

Antonio Gates, Chargers

The Los Angeles Chargers have reached an agreement with veteran tight end Antonio Gates to return to the team for the upcoming season, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.

The 38-year-old Gates, who was not re-signed by the team this offseason, will now return for a 16th NFL season, all of which have been with the Chargers franchise.

The door opened to a Gates reunion with the Chargers after starting tight end Hunter Henry and rookie Austin Roberts both went down with torn ACLs. Gates and the Chargers have reportedly been in contact about a possible return since June.

While there wasn’t much progress being reported for some time, Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn did confirm in August that the talks between the two sides remained ongoing.

Gates is one of the greatest tight ends in NFL history and is far and away the Chargers’ all-time leader in the top three receiving categories — receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns. However, he isn’t the player he once was and is coming off easily the worst season of his career since his rookie year. He had just 30 catches for 316 yards and three touchdowns despite playing in all 16 games in the 2017 campaign.

But with the injuries to Henry and Roberts, the Chargers remained in need of an additional receiving option at tight end behind starter Virgil Green. Even in Gates’ diminished state at this stage of his career, his experience and comfort level with quarterback Philip Rivers — who lobbied for Gates’ return — could prove to be beneficial for the Chargers over the course of the season.