NFL San Diego Chargers

Top 5 Reasons San Diego Chargers’ Antonio Gates Needs to Stay

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Antonio Gates: 5 Reasons to Stay in San Diego

Stan Liu-USA TODAY Sports

Antonio Gates is closing out his eleventh NFL season and if he suits up the rest of the season, this season might be the first season since 2009 he has shown up in all games. Coming to importance is second-year tight end, Ledarius Green, and Gates’ tenure as a member of the San Diego Chargers.

A suited Gates makes plays for Philip Rivers. Last year, a hobbled Gates only caught 49 receptions, 538 yards and seven touchdowns. Through Week 13, Gates has already 64 receptions, 726 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Because of Rivers’ tendencies, Gates still draws significant attention from defenses across the league. Teams have to draw game plans for Gates as long as he is suited.

Gates’ production fallen as Keenan Allen, a strong candidate for NFL Rookie of the Year, is becoming the number one option for Rivers, especially on third downs. Allen has caught 22 passes on third down versus Gates’ 15 catches.

Though his production has fallen, Gates’ double teams are opening routes for Allen and Green. Allen and Green succeeding with the Chargers surfaces a taboo-- How long is Gates going to stay with the Chargers?

Right now Gates’ is earning $4.9 million guaranteed this year, $5 million guaranteed in 2014 and $5.9 million guaranteed in 2015. His contract expires at the end of the 2015 season and is the third highest earning Charger behind Eric Weddle and Philip Rivers.

Gates, age 33, is one of the older tight ends in the league. Age shouldn’t matter right now, as these are five reasons why the Chargers need to consider making him a Charger for life.

Erwin Mendoza is a San Diego Chargers writer for Follow him on Twitter @erwinsports, or add him to your network on Google.

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Blocking TE

Matthews or the other RBs need decent blocking
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Matthews and the running backs need solid blocking. The needs at the Chargers' offensive line are too massive, so Gates' blocking off the edge helps the backs find space.

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Double Tight End Sets

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL is a copycat league, so the double tight end set is becoming a formidable formation. The 2012 New England Patriots had Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez line up and it gave defenses headaches as both tight ends have great hands. The double tight end set is perfect as Ledarius Green's stock rises.

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Ledarius Green

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

This is Ledarius Green's second year in the league and he is instantly garnering praise nationally and locally as the tight end of the future. During the Kansas City game when Gates caught his 700th pass, the next pass went to Green for his first NFL touchdown, signifying a passing of the baton. Although Green still has a lot to work on, Gates is the perfect mentor for him.

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Rivers’ All-Time Favorite

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Rivers has gone to Gates for 59 touchdowns in their career, making them the most scoring quarterback-tight end duo. Because of Gates' versatility Rivers has trusted him in dire third downs and must score possessions.

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LaDainian Tomlinson
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The new Chargers brass needs to give its players the respect they deserve. Gates is an exemplary player and person on their roster. He showed up to training camp as an undrafted free agent and will leave the league a Hall of Famer. LaDainian Tomlinson left the organization for the Jets on a sour note, and the Chargers' shouldn't repeat history.