Chargers QB Philip Rivers advocating for team to bring back Antonio Gates
Earlier this offseason, the Los Angeles Chargers decided to part ways with former Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates after 15 seasons, with the intention of giving Hunter Henry a larger role for the 2018 season. However, those plans were quickly derailed after Henry suffered a torn ACL in the offseason workouts.
This has put the Chargers back on the market to add a tight end in free agency, which still includes Gates. According to Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times, Chargers Pro Bowl quarterback Philip Rivers has been pushing hard to get his former teammate back in the fold.
#Chargers QB Philip Rivers strongly endorsed a return of veteran TE Antonio Gates and has spoken to Gates in past week but otherwise shed no light on chances for such a reunion.
— Mike DiGiovanna (@MikeDiGiovanna) May 29, 2018
More from Pro Football Talk’s Charean Williams:
“Well, shoot, I’d always be excited if he walked back in the door obviously,” Rivers said, via video released by the team. “That’s something that Tom [Telesco] and John [Spanos] and coach [Anthony Lynn] and those guys I’m sure will discuss and see about bringing anybody in for that matter, but certainly [Gates’ return] would get my vote.”
Bringing back Gates would give them a proven talent that wouldn’t need to transition to playing in the Chargers’ offensive game plan. He also has developed a strong connection with Rivers over the years that could lead to him being a more than reliable target in the passing game despite being past his best days.
The two have experienced plenty of success together over more than the last decade, forming one of the most formidable connections in the game by recording 87 touchdowns, which only trails former San Francisco 49ers’ Steve Young and Jerry Rice for most all time by a duo. Rivers certainly knows how valuable the presence of Gates could be in the passing game, especially in the red zone.
The 37-year-old has shown that he still has plenty left in the tank, as he is coming off a respectable 2017 campaign where he had 45 catches for 579 receiving yards and four touchdowns. It may just be up to the Chargers to decide it’s in their best interests to bring back Gates for at least another year.