Antonio Gates was unable to find work in the NFL this past season, and the tight end will not be pursuing an opportunity to play in 2020.
On Tuesday, Gates issued a statement announcing he has decided to retire from playing. The 39-year-old said he will remain with the Los Angeles Chargers organization in a community relations role.
— Antonio Gates (@AntonioGates85) January 14, 2020
Gates finishes his career with 955 receptions for 11,841 yards and 116 touchdowns, which is the most ever for a tight end in the NFL. His next stop will undoubtedly be the Hall of Fame.
Gates played 16 seasons in the NFL, all with the Chargers. The team brought him back early in 2018 after Hunter Henry went down with an injury, and Gates indicated after that season that he wanted to keep playing. It’s remarkable he was able to play as long as he did at such a high level, especially given how physical the tight end position is. He’s easily one of the best tight ends of all time.
Los Angeles Chargers tight end Antonio Gates managed to revive his career with his team in 2018, and as far as he’s concerned, he sounds like he’d prefer it continue in 2019.
Gates told Steve Wyche of NFL Network that he feels good, loves his teammates, and appears to be leaning toward playing another season in 2019, if possible.
I spoke to Chargers TE Antonio Gates today. The likely future Hall of Famer indicated that his 16th season, might not be his last – at least in his mind. He's loving how he feels, his teammates and coaches, how this season has played out and more. Story coming soon. @NFLMedia
— Steve Wyche (@wyche89) December 28, 2018
Gates has 28 catches and two touchdowns this season, and the Chargers would obviously have to want him back if he were to remain with the organization. That’s no sure thing, but if Gates wants to play, he’ll find work somewhere, even though he’ll be 39 next year. Plus, one more year might enable to him to get to know some more people around the league.
Antonio Gates has been playing in the NFL so long that he feels somewhat out of touch these days.
NFL Films was visiting the Oakland Raiders’ locker room to conduct voting for its annual Top 100 players in the league poll. A few players said they had voted linebacker Khalil Mack, their former teammate, first.
Gates had a funny response to the poll, saying he doesn’t even know 50 players in the league anymore.
My favorite response I heard to this earlier in the week was Antonio Gates saying, “I don’t even know 50 people in the league anymore.” https://t.co/3UreDIocBB
— Robert Mays (@robertmays) December 22, 2018
Calling Gates an elder statesman would be an understatement. He’s 38 now and has been playing since 2003. Back then, Peyton Manning and Steve McNair were co-MVPs, Ray Lewis was Defensive Player of the Year, and Anquan Boldin and Terrell Suggs were the offensive and defensive rookies of the year. That list should make you feel old, and it probably does for Gates.
Gates is surprisingly still racking up stats too. He has 25 catches for 312 yards and two touchdowns this season, even if he doesn’t know the names of the players he was doing it against.
The Los Angeles Chargers have been in talks with Antonio Gates throughout the offseason about the tight end returning for a 16th NFL season, and he is going to do just that.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Sunday that Gates and the Chargers have reached a contract agreement. The team later confirmed the news:
We've agreed to terms with Antonio Gates. pic.twitter.com/bHTo7Lq4L3
— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) September 2, 2018
The Chargers reportedly wanted to sign Gates before training camp, but it’s possible the 38-year-old preferred to avoid the grind of summer. He has spent his entire career with the Chargers and obviously doesn’t need any time to establish chemistry with Philip Rivers, so he should have no trouble getting up to speed.
Gates was considering retirement after last season, but an injury to another tight end in L.A. likely caused him to change his mind. While Gates had just 316 yards receiving and three touchdowns last season despite appearing in all 16 games, it makes sense that the Chargers wanted him back.
The Los Angeles Chargers have been in talks with Antonio Gates and reportedly would like to have him signed before the beginning of training camp.
ESPN reporter Josina Anderson reported the news about the Chargers’ hopes for Gates.
One team source told me it would really be their preference for unsigned veteran TE Antonio Gates to rejoin the #Chargers and for both sides to "get it done before camp" starts. We'll see if that wish comes true…
— ig: josinaanderson (@JosinaAnderson) July 24, 2018
Camp begins on Saturday for the Chargers, so that would give them the week to get something done with the veteran tight end.
Gates was considering retirement after the season and was unsigned, but an injury to tight end Hunter Henry opened up a spot on the roster and created a natural match.
The 38-year-old has played his entire season for the Chargers. He had 30 catches for 316 yards and three touchdowns last year.
Some say that the NFL stands for “Not For Long,” and the reasons for that are obvious. Football is a dangerous game played by some of the strongest and fastest athletes in the world. Most NFL careers are understandably short at an average of between 3-6 years, with the higher number projected by the NFL and the lower number projected by the NFLPA.
In some cases, players exceed those numbers, but Father Time catches up with everyone. And quite often, that’s a hard pill to swallow for someone who loves the game and knows nothing else. But in the end, retirement is inevitable for all who snap on the chinstrap.
Here’s a look at 10 NFL players who should be considering retirement in 2018.
10. Karlos Dansby, LB, free agent
Karlos Dansby briefly considered retirement a season ago before signing a one-year deal to return to the Arizona Cardinals, where he appeared in 16 games, recording 95 tackles and one sack. While Dansby’s numbers were still respectable, his Pro Football Focus grade dipped to 68.2, which is considered below average. But despite that, and the fact that he’s approaching the age of 37, Dansby still does not appear ready to hang them up, and teams remain interested. Ultimately, the window on Dansby’s career is closing. He’ll need to think about life after football sooner rather than later.
The Los Angeles Chargers are moving one step closer to bringing back their future Hall of Fame tight end.
In an appearance Wednesday on 97.3 The Fan in San Diego, Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said that the team has been in touch with Antonio Gates and his representatives about a potential reunion.
“Obviously, Antonio would be a natural fit,” said Telesco, according to Jack Wang of the LA Daily News. “He’s someone that we have talked to. We’ve talked to his representatives. Sometimes, it’s not just as easy as saying, ‘Hey, let’s just bring him back. Let’s go.’”
The soon-to-be 38-year-old Gates, an eight-time Pro Bowler, has played all 15 seasons of his career with the Chargers. He caught 30 passes for 316 yards and three touchdowns last year but remains unsigned for the 2018 season.
Gates had previously been speculated as an option for the Chargers after tight end Hunter Henry suffered a torn ACL last month. With Virgil Green next up on the depth chart, a Gates signing could still make sense for them, even considering his age.