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Chargers TE Antonio Gates Says He’s “Definitely Leaning Toward” Returning Next Year

Long-time Chargers TE Antonio Gates told reporters on Wednesday that he’s “definitely leaning toward” returning for the 2017 season.

“This is not the way I expected to be done,” Gates said, per Michael Gehlken. “I’m definitely leaning toward coming back.

The Chargers have a promising young tight end in Hunter Henry, but it wouldn’t hurt to have Gates back for another season, especially when you consider the amount of injuries San Diego was forced to deal with this year.

Gates, 36, signed on with the Chargers as an undrafted free agent out of Kent State back in 2003 and has spent his entire 14-year NFL career in San Diego. He’s currently in the first year of his two-year, $11 million contract. The deal contains $6 million guaranteed and stands to make a base salary of $4.5 million for the 2017 season.

In 2016, Gates has appeared in 13 games for the Chargers and caught 48 passes for 493 yards receiving and six touchdowns. Pro Football Focus has him rated as the No. 18 tight end out of 64 qualifying players.