San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates intends to play in 2017

BY Fansided and Brad Berreman/Fansided • December 28, 2016

It’s that time of the year again for San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, and he said he plans to play in 2017.

San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers made it one of his goals for the 2016 season to get Antonio Gates the all-time touchdown record for tight ends. With one game to go, Gates needs two touchdowns against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday to pass Tony Gonzalez with 112 touchdown receptions in his career.

Gates will turn 37 before next season, so the now annual possibility of retirement has come Gates’ way as this season winds down. Via Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune, Gates offered some insight into his plans for 2017.

Gates said something similar at the end of last season, but without a contract at that point in time. He signed a two-year deal in March, through next season now obviously, with a reasonable base salary of $4.5 million for 2017. A double-digit loss season for the Chargers this year may be driving some of Gates’ desire to return next season, and he may be playing for a new head coach with all signs pointing toward Mike McCoy being fired.

Gates has had a productive 2016 season, with 48 receptions for 493 yards and six touchdowns in 13 games to this point. So the Chargers are unlikely to cut him, regardless of any salary cap implications, and Gates should wind up spending his entire career in San Diego (or wherever the team plays home games next season).

With rookie tight end Hunter Henry becoming an immediate contributor this season, with 32 receptions for 435 yards and seven touchdowns in 14 games, Gates has seemed to be a more effective player with fewer snaps. That productive tight end duo should continue next season, as long as Gates follows through on his intention to play his 15th NFL season.

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