Chargers TE Antonio Gates suspended four games for violating NFL's PED policy
The San Diego Chargers will begin the 2015 season without one of its most reliable players, Antonio Gates.
The future Hall-of-Fame tight end has been suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2015 regular season for violating the NFL's policy on performance enhancing drugs (PEDs).
"In my 12 years in the NFL, I have taken tremendous pride in upholding the integrity of the NFL shield and all that it entails," Gates said Thursday, in a statement issued by the Chargers. "I have taken extreme care of my body with a holistic approach and I have never knowingly ingested a substance that was banned by the NFL.
"In an effort to recover from this past season, I used supplements and holistic medicines, and unfortunately, I have now learned that those substances always present a risk because they may contain banned substances even if the ingredient list doesn't reflect them."
Gates was one of the Chargers' most productive players last season, catching 69 passes on 99 targets for 821 yards. He, along with Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots, led all NFL tight ends with 12 touchdowns.
The 35-year-old Gates can participate in all of the Chargers' offseason and preseason workouts, practices and games. He becomes eligible to return to the active roster in Week 5, when the Chargers take on the Pittsburgh Steelers. The four opponents Gates will miss all fall outside the AFC West, a silver lining for the Chargers.
"We are tremendously disappointed for our team and our fans as well as Antonio, but no more disappointed than Antonio is with himself," the Chargers said in a statement issued Thursday. "Antonio is a member of the Chargers' family and we will continue to support him 100-percent. We have the utmost confidence he will stay in excellent shape for the season and be ready to go when he returns in Week 5."
While Gates sits, the Chargers likely will look to the Ladarius Green to fill the void. Green only was active for 14 games last season, catching a career-high 19 passes for 226 yards.
"(Last year) wasn't what I would have liked it to be," Green told Chargers.com earlier this month. "I would have liked to have made more plays, but I think that's because I got injured. So I didn't have as many opportunities. But also, (Antonio) Gates had an amazing year, so I can't really complain."
Green now will have plenty of opportunities to show the Chargers he can play. Heck, the 6-6, 240-pound tight end could be the Chargers' starting tight end of the future.
Chargers list job opening. Requirements include "willing to relocate to the Los Angeles area, if necessary." pic.twitter.com/iGoOqWzE5d— Michael Gehlken (@UTgehlken) July 2, 2015