Chargers sign Gates through 2015

The San Diego Chargers announced Wednesday that six-time Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates has agreed to terms on a new contract through the 2015 season. Additional terms were not announced.

“Antonio is a special player and person. He is everything we are looking for in a Chargers player,” said General Manager A.J. Smith. “His talent and contributions to our team speak for themselves. His work ethic and desire to be the best are unmatched. He has been a major part of the success we have had over the past several years, and we are thrilled he will continue to be with us for years to come.”

The only current Charger named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team (2000-09) and one of the Chargers’ 50 Greatest Players of All-Time, Gates is one of the most-highly decorated tight ends to ever play the game. He had a memorable season in 2009, leading the team with 79 catches, racking up a career-best 1,157 yards, and scoring eight touchdowns. His 14.6 yards per catch average was the highest in the NFL among all tight ends.

Gates is a six-time Pro Bowler and a three-time All-Pro.

“I’ve been blessed my whole career to be with one team,” Gates said. “It’s always good to get (the contract) out of the way. The goal is to win a championship. We all are human and it becomes a distraction even though you might not want it to be. It’s always great to be able to go ahead and do what you need to do and get it out of the way.”

Since his rookie season of 2003, Gates leads all tight ends in touchdown catches (59). He ranks second in yards (6,223) and third in catches (479). Gates has led the Chargers in catches each of the last six seasons (2004-09).

There are presently seven modern-era tight ends enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Gates’ career touchdown total of 59 exceeds all seven. The Hall of Fame list includes former Charger Kellen Winslow, along with John Mackey, Ozzie Newsome, Dave Casper, Jackie Smith, Charlie Sanders and Mike Ditka.

Winslow has long been regarded as the greatest tight end in franchise history, yet Gates is on the verge of sharing or laying claim solely to that distinction. He heads into 2010 within range of Winslow’s career totals for receptions (541) and receiving yards (6,741). Gates needs just 62 catches and 518 yards to equal Winslow’s career statistics.

— Source: San Diego Chargers