"But that has to be a collective decision. I can't just want to come back. So we'll see how it goes.
The veteran tight end wants to make sure the team knows his desire to play a 17th season early this time around, in hopes Chargers brass saves a spot.
"Maybe they felt I was on the brink of whether or not I want to be here or not, and they had to make choices early on," Gates said. "I want to be sure to remind them that I want to come back. 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 out it goes."
Gates is slow as molasses at this stage of his career, but can still get open, particularly on key third downs. On the season Gates caught 28 passes for 333 yards and two touchdowns. Philip Rivers would often go back to old-reliable in key spots on big third-and-short plays.
On Sunday, Gates compiled five receptions on eight targets for 41 yards and a touchdown. The veteran said defenses believe he still has enough juice left in the tank by how they bracket coverage him in big spots.
"Of course I think I can still play. Do they think I can still play? That's just something -- I know [the Patriots] think I can still play because they keep doubling me," Gates said. "A lot of teams think I can still play because they find a way to still double me on third down. That just remains to be seen.
"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."