Antonio Gates signing smart short-term answer, raises questions for future TE
The deal: Antonio Gates re-signed with the Chargers for two-years, $12 million ($6 million guaranteed).
What it means for the Chargers: There wasn’t much to like about the Chargers’ offense in 2015, but Antonio Gates (82.5 overall grade) remained one of the bright spots. He had 1.79 yards per route run, which was ninth-best for tight ends, and his best performance in that category since 2010. His run-blocking grade is also the highest it’s been since 2012. His solid play this year was good for our seventh-highest-graded tight end in the 2015 season.
He will be 36 before the start of next season, and is the oldest tight end in the NFL, but so far, he’s been able to avoid a decline in his play. As long as he can continue to defy his age, the Chargers will have one of the better tight ends in the NFL. It doesn’t seem like they have a long-term solution under contract for whenever Gates decides to retire.
The move also means that Ladarius Green (74.3) will likely sign with a new team (Pro Football Talk reporting Green is visiting Pittsburgh today). Long-term, if you could only have one or the other, Green would be the logical choice because he has played well and can be the future for a team at the position. However, there are probably multiple teams interested in Green, and the price tag may have become too high for the Chargers.
In 2013, Green had a 2.67 yards per route run, which was only bested by Rob Gronkowski that year. In 2014, it was down to 1.85, which was sixth-best for tight ends. His 2015 season wasn’t nearly as strong at 1.06, but among the tight ends available this free agency, he has shown the most potential to be a top-tier player.