There was little sign that the Chargers would bring tight end Antonio Gates back for the 2018 season and the team made their plans to move on without him official on Monday with statements thanking the veteran for his years with the team.
Most of Gates’ highlights came on passes from Philip Rivers, who offered his own thoughts about Gates’ departure from the team. Rivers said he “couldn’t be more thankful” for the chance to play with Gates, who caught 87 touchdowns from Rivers. The 86th gave them one more than the Steve Young-Jerry Rice tandem and only Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison have hooked up for more scores.
“That is special,” Rivers said. “Speaking from a selfish standpoint, I don’t know where I’d be without him. If he hadn’t been here for 14 years, I don’t know what my career is like. You’re talking about a pretty unique opportunity to be paired with the best tight end who has more touchdowns than anybody. And then I’m able to share in many of them. It’s awesome, and that part is important. It’s great to have something we can share together. That part is cool and special to both of us. When you see the names like Young and Rice, Peyton and Marvin, and you see Rivers and Gates; that is special.”
Rivers called it “a unique opportunity” to share so much of his career with Gates and both the NFL and Chargers record books attest to how unusual it is for two players to find so much sustained success together.