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Philip Rivers: I'd back Antonio Gates, Chargers reunion

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Veteran tight end Antonio Gates remains a free agent, but he has the support from an established leader for a potential return to his former team.

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said Tuesday he has stayed in touch with Gates and the signal-caller endorses the idea of bringing back one of his favorite receiving targets.

"I'd always be excited if he walked back in the door," Rivers said, via Jack Wang of the Orange County Register. "It would get my vote."

Whether the Chargers re-sign Gates after cutting ties with him in late April remains unknown. There is no doubting, however, the Chargers should bolster the tight end position in the wake of projected starter Hunter Henry suffering a torn ACL last week.

The Chargers signed Virgil Green to a three-year deal during free agency, but Green is known mostly as a blocker and has just 71 catches for 807 yards and four touchdowns on his seven-year career.

Los Angeles' other options behind Green include Braedon Bowman and Sean Culkin, both of whom have combined for no catches in the NFL.

Gates, who turns 38 in June, would fill an immediate need and could hit the ground running given his past chemistry with Rivers.

While his production declined in 2017 as Henry emerged as the go-to option, Gates remains one of the most prolific tight ends in NFL history.

Gates has 927 catches for 11,508 yards and 114 touchdowns over his career, and has been selected as a three-time first-team All-Pro (2004-06) and named to eight Pro Bowls.

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