Pro Bowler Antonio Gates is back with the Los Angeles Chargers. The team signed the free agent to a one-year contract Sunday after it told him in April it would not resign him.
That was before stater Hunter Henry torn an ACL on the first day of OTAs. Henry was expected to be the focal point of the Chargers offense. He essentially took over as the Charges’ primary tight end last season, where he started in 13 of 14 games with 45 catches for 579 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
With Herny out, the Chargers’ best option on the roster was veteran Virgil Greene. But Green does not have the kind of rapport Gates has with quarterback Philip Rivers, which was why speculations about Gates’ return started immediately.
When he heard about Gates’ return, Rivers was ecstatic.
“I’m excited to have him back; it should be pretty easy for he and I to get on the same page,” he said. “I just couldn’t picture him ever wearing another uniform.”
The 87 touchdowns between Rivers and Gates are the most ever for a quarterback and tight end and the second-most of any duo in NFL history, behind Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison.
Gates’ 114 TD receptions are the most by a tight end in NFL history.
Also happy to see Gates back in Bolts uniform is general manager Tom Telesco. He’s grateful that Gates is coming back for the right reason, he said.
“He’s not coming back to put up more statistics,” Telesco said. “He’s not coming back to prove anything to anybody because he doesn’t have to do that. But he’s coming back because he loves his teammates, and I think that he sees something special in this football team that he wants to be a part of.”
This season will be the 38-year-old’s 16th in the league, all with the Chargers.