Gates could still return for his 17th season with the Chargers, according to head coach Anthony Lynn, Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com reports. The Chargers head coach seemed emphatic about the veteran's potential return, saying it was "absolutely" possible, but then later downplayed the possible interest, suggesting the organization was in "wait-and-see" mode. In any matter, if Gates were to return he likely would play a minimal role considering Hunter Henry (torn ACL) is expected to be fully healthy for the start of training camp, and the ever reliable Virgil Green is still in the fold.
Gates' representation is expected to meet with GM Tom Telesco at some point during the NFL Scouting Combine to discuss the veteran tight end's possible return for a 17th season, Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com reports. This shouldn't come as much of a surprise given Gates seemed to indicate following the Chargers' divisional-round loss to the Patriots that he was interested in returning to the team in 2019. However, with Hunter Henry expected to be fully healthy following a preseason torn ACL and Virgil Green still in the mix, it's unclear how many snaps would even be available if the soon-to-be 39-year-old returned for another season.
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.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|9||11/03||Green Bay Packers||8||5.50|
|11||11/19||Kansas City Chiefs||31||9.56|
|17||12/29||@Kansas City Chiefs||31||9.56|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||63||37||399||4||23||10.78||63|