Antonio Gates wants to be back on the field next season.
The Chargers were eliminated from the playoffs when they fell to the Patriots, 41-28, in the AFC divisional round Sunday. The 38-year tight end said after the loss he wasn’t ready to retire yet and was hoping to be back with Los Angeles in 2018-19.
“I just don’t see myself walking away with this taste,” Gates told reporters, via ESPN. “And plus, this team. I think when you add (tight end) Hunter (Henry) back, and hopefully we get Jason Verrett back — shoot, the sky’s the limit. And I want to be a part of it.
“But that has to be a collective decision. I can’t just want to come back. So, we’ll see how it goes.”
Gates caught 28 passes for 333 yards and two touchdowns in 16 games for Los Angeles this season.
“Of course I think I can still play,” Gates said. “I’ll have to sit down with the head coach and the people that make these decisions and express how motivated I am to come back even better, as a player and as a teammate, and hopefully they bring me back.”
The Chargers let Gates become a free agent last offseason. But, Henry tore his ACL during OTAs in May, leading Los Angeles to re-sign the eight-time Pro Bowl player in early September.
“I want to be sure to remind (the Chargers) that I want to come back,” Gates said. “I want to be part of something special, and I think we have that here. But that’s out of my control in the sense where I can only do what I can do. And we’ll see how it goes.”
Gates tallied five receptions for 41 yards and a score in the loss to New England.