The NFL’s best tight end will not be going anywhere any time soon. Antonio Gates and the San Diego Chargers have come to terms on a contract extension through 2015.
The deal, reportedly worth $36.175 million over five years (with $20.4 million in guarantees) will make Gates the NFL’s highest-paid tight end. The contract will be worth an average of $7.235 million per season.
The 30-year-old Gates certainly deserves the raise, as he is coming off a season in which he racked up a career-high 1,157 yards and eight touchdowns. Since entering the league in in 2003, Gates leads all tight ends in touchdowns (59), is second in yards (6,223), and third in receptions (479). He was also named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team (2000-09).
Now that Gates’ deal is finally done, one would have to believe that the Chargers will finally turn to their other pressing business: getting wide receiver Vincent Jackson and offensive tackle Marcus McNeill signed.
General manager A.J. Smith has been playing hardball with both Jackson and McNeill, and the players have been playing right back. But Smith isn’t an idiot, he knows he needs to get both players on the field if the Chargers are going to be successful. Quarterback Philip Rivers has his No. 1 target locked up with the Gates extension, now he needs his blindside protector (McNeill) and his other main target (Jackson) to be in the fold.
Running back Ryan Matthews, the No. 12 pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, will likely be in camp shortly as most experts have said his deal is close to being done. That means Smith needs to get the other players on the field as soon as possible if the Chargers have any hope of competing this season.