Gates indicated after Sunday's divisional-round loss to the Patriots that he's open to returning for the 2019 season, Sam Fortier of the Athletic reports. After coming out of retirement this past offseason to help the Chargers replace an injured Hunter Henry (knee), many assumed Sunday's playoff game would be Gates' final time lacing up the cleats. However, it seems the 38-year-old has a desire to play another season. The question entering the offseason will now be whether Los Angeles feels he can still be a worthwhile contributor. The team is set to have both Henry and fellow tight end Virgil Green under contract in 2019.
Gates caught five of eight targets for 41 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's 41-28 divisional-round loss to the Patriots. Gates and quarterback Philip Rivers combined for one last hurrah in the final minute, connecting on an eight-yard touchdown with 59 seconds remaining. The 38-year-old tight end came out of retirement to play one more campaign after Hunter Henry tore his ACL in the offseason, but this was almost certainly the last game of Gates' illustrious career. He chipped in 28 catches for 333 yards and two touchdowns in the regular season, bringing his career totals to 11,841 yards and 116 touchdowns on 955 catches. Expect to see Gates' name at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton one day.
Gates caught all four of his targets for 35 yards in the 23-17 wild-card win over the Ravens on Sunday. Gates was far and away Philip Rivers' main target on critical third downs, as Rivers utilized the veteran tight end's knack for route running to move the chains on multiple occasions. The fact Gates surpassed his 2017 receiving numbers in 2018 despite playing in 134 fewer offensive snaps should be an indication of his role in the Chargers' current offense, but it seems unlikely the rest of the team's skill position players will be held in check in a similar way to that of the wild-card contest going forward in the playoffs.
Gates caught three of his five targets for 21 yards in Saturday's 22-10 loss to the Ravens. Through 15 games this season, Gates has logged 28 catches (on 43 targets) for 333 yards and a pair of TDs. While those numbers are well below what the 38-year-old posted in his top seasons, Gates has been targeted five times in each of his last two games, a degree of involvement that gives him modest fantasy utility in deeper PPR formats.
Gates caught four of his five targets for 54 yards in the win Thursday over the Chiefs. Losing Keenan Allen (hip) meant that Antonio Gates immediately asserted himself as Philip Rivers' favorite target between the 20s, gravitating past his usual checkdown role to actually snag a couple of longer receptions. It's encouraging to note that Gates could be a relevant fantasy asset should the situation arise, but with just two weeks left in the regular season it seems asinine to suggest the veteran tight end could be counted on to consistently put forth this type of production.
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