Hunter Henry’s season-ending injury leaves the Chargers with a massive hole at tight end. Philip Rivers wants Antonio Gates back to fill it.
Los Angeles Chargers fans aren’t the only ones who want to see Antonio Gates suit up for the team again.
In the aftermath of Hunter Henry’s injury, Philip Rivers is all for bringing the legendary tight end back into the fold as well.
Gates was unceremoniously released by the organization before Henry went down during OTAs. Rivers isn’t making any secret of the fact he’d support the team re-signing Gates. He told team reporters that he’d be “excited if he [Gates] walked back in the door.”
In fairness to the Chargers front office, Gates is coming off the worst year of his professional career. His catch total of just 30 receptions was the lowest total since his rookie year. It’s very possible Tom Telesco looked at Gates’ film from last season and simply concluded that he’s too old to play at a high level.
It’s unclear whether or not Henry’s injury will change that calculation. Telesco told reporters the team would “look at all the options” to fill his spot on the roster. He declined to specifically comment about whether or not Gates would be a part of that process.
Having the public of support of Rivers should give Gates a leg up on the competition, though. It’s going to take the quarterback a fair amount of time to build chemistry with a new tight end off the street. Replacing Gates with an internal player like Henry is one thing; trying to replace him with a free agent with zero experience with the Chargers is a different proposition altogether.
The real question is whether or not Gates will be willing to come back and engage in a season that would likely resemble a retirement tour. If he re-signs with the Chargers, he’ll be questioned about his career legacy in every visiting city. That could grow very tiresome to a player like Gates, who doesn’t enjoy the media spotlight.
Ultimately, Henry’s injury opens the door for Gates to make his return to the Chargers roster this season and then retire on his own terms. Let’s see if Telesco and the team’s front office want to give Rivers the tight end he wants.