Free Agency

Antonio Gates Returns, Ladarius Green Bolts


The Chargers had hoped to keep both Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green. It turns out the team will have to settle for a split.

Gates signed a new two-year contract with the Chargers on Wednesday, just hours before he was set to hit the open market. Green, on the other hand, is expected to sign a deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

If the Chargers were only to keep one of their two talented tight ends, the choice was easy. While Green is being paid for his potential — and he has plenty of that — Gates is being paid for his production.

Gates made history in 2015 when he made his 100th career touchdown catch. That total now sits at 104, seven behind Tony Gonzalez for most all-time by a tight end.

And while his best days are behind him, Gates, 35, showed he could still produce at a high level last season. He appeared in only 11 games (missing four due to suspension and one due to injury), but if you project his numbers over a 16-game schedule, you get 81 catches for 916 yards and seven touchdowns.

The Chargers will miss Green, as the No. 2 tight end positon is now up for grabs. Asante Cleveland, who joined the team late last season, will have a chance to carve out a role. More depth will likely arrive via the draft.

South Carolina’s Jerrell Adams will garner strong consideration if he’s still available at the top of the fourth round. Iowa’s Henry Krieger-Coble — or, as I call him, Justin Peelle 2.0 — is another option on the third day of the draft.

The Chargers expressed interest in both Adams and Krieger-Coble during Senior Bowl week.

About Michael Lombardo

Michael Lombardo has covered the San Diego Chargers since 2003. He spent 12 years covering the team for and has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports, Football Insiders and MySpace Sports.

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