The Los Angeles Chargers have reportedly released a team icon.
According to ESPN, the Chargers informed tight end Antonio Gates that they don’t intend to sign him for the 2018 season.
While TE Jason Witten is preparing to retire, TE Antonio Gates wants to continue playing, though the Charges informed him this off-season they do not plan to bring him back to LA, per league source.
It means one of top all-time TEs is now willing to finish his career elsewhere.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 27, 2018
Gates, who turns 38 this summer, still wants to play and intends to seek out another team, according to the report. The Chargers, meanwhile, are ready to make Hunter Henry their full-time end.
Gates joined the Chargers in 2003 as an undrafted free agent with a basketball background out of Kent State. He did not play football in college. He quickly emerged as one of the league’s best at his position and helped usher in a new era of prolific pass-catching tight ends.
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By his second year in the league, Gates had transitioned from a third-string tight end to first-team All Pro, tallying 81 catches for 964 yards and 13 touchdowns with Drew Brees throwing the ball. It was the first of three consecutive first-team All Pro nods and eight straight Pro Bowls for Gates. Gates also earned a pair of second-team All Pro nods with the Chargers.
When Philip Rivers took over for Brees in 2006, Gates didn’t miss a beat and settled in as Rivers’ favorite target during their time together in San Diego. Gates, Rivers and LaDainian Tomlinson were the core of one of the NFL’s most potent offensive attacks through the late 2000s.
Gates led NFL tight ends in receiving yards three times and touchdowns five times with the Chargers. He finishes his 15-year Chargers career with 927 catches for 11,508 yards, both team records. His 114 touchdowns is the most ever by an NFL tight end and the sixth-most by any player.