Chargers bid Antonio Gates farewell

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The Chargers told Antonio Gates already they weren’t bringing him back in 2018. They have made it official, bidding him farewell and wishing him the best in his efforts to continue playing.

“Antonio is not only one of the best Chargers of all-time, but he’s one of the best football players in the history of our game,” General Manager Tom Telesco said, via Ricky Henne of the team website. “He has meant so much to this organization — both on the field, off the field, in San Diego, in Los Angeles — and we can’t say enough about the type of person he is, and player. These decisions are really, really difficult. . . . There aren’t many guys like him that come along, and I’ve been doing this for 20 years and have had a chance to be around some special players — some special Hall of Fame players — but nobody greater than what he did at his position.”

Gates made eight Pro Bowls and five times was selected All-Pro. He ends his Chargers’ career as the team’s all-time leader in receptions (927), receiving yards (11,508) and touchdowns (114).

“Antonio’s contributions to our organization over the past 15 years cannot be overstated, and I want to thank him for what he has meant throughout his career to our family, his teammates, our staff and Chargers fans everywhere,” Controlling Owner and Chairman of the Board Dean Spanos said. “He’s the consummate professional. Humble. Kind. Giving. Thoughtful. A pillar of the community who has been a true role model to so many — both on the field and off. And while we know his story includes a trip to Canton, no matter what the next chapter holds, Antonio will always be a beloved and important member of the Chargers family. We look forward to honoring him at the appropriate time.”

Gates turns 38 in June and played less than 50 percent of the team’s offensive snaps last season, but he wants to continue playing if anyone will give him a chance.