LOS ANGELES, California –Future NFL Hall of Famer, Antonio Gates, isn’t quit ready to hang up his cleats just yet.
Following his team’s 41-28 to the New England Patriots, Gates who finished with five receptions for 41 yards and a touchdown stated that he’d like to return to the Chargers next season.
“I just don’t see myself walking away with this taste,” Gates said after his team’s 41-28 loss, via ESPN’s Eric D. Williams. “And plus this team. I think when you add Hunter [Henry] back, and hopefully we get Jason Verrett back — shoot, the sky’s the limit. And I want to be a part of it.
“But that has to be a collective decision. I can’t just want to come back. So we’ll see how it goes.
Last offseason, the Chargers didn’t seem inclined to bring back the 38-year-old tight end. Then Hunter Henry went down with an ACL tear in May, paving the way for Gates’ return.
The veteran tight end wants to make sure the team knows his desire to play a 17th season early this time around, in hopes Chargers brass saves a spot.
“Maybe they felt I was on the brink of whether or not I want to be here or not, and they had to make choices early on,” Gates said. “I want to be sure to remind them that I want to come back. I want to be part of something special, and I think we have that here. But that’s out of my control in the sense where I can only do what I can do. And we’ll see out it goes.”
On the season Gates caught 28 passes for 333 yards and two touchdowns.
“Of course I think I can still play. Do they think I can still play? That’s just something — I know [the Patriots] think I can still play because they keep doubling me,” Gates said. “A lot of teams think I can still play because they find a way to still double me on third down. That just remains to be seen.
“I’ll have to sit down with the head coach and the people that make these decisions and express how motivated I am to come back even better, as a player and as a teammate, and hopefully they bring me back.”
Among TEs, Gates ranks No. 1 in NFL history with 21 career multi-touchdown games and third in league annals with 21 100-yard receiving performances.
Gates’ 927 regular-season receptions, ranks 20th all-time and No. 3 among TEs in NFL history.
He ranks third among TEs in career receiving yards with 11,508 and is one of just four TEs in history to top 10,000 career receiving yards.