The Chargers announced late Wednesday that they have signed TE Antonio Gates to a five-year contract extension that will keep him in San Diego through 2015. According to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, the deal is worth $36.175 million, including $20.4 million guaranteed.
"Antonio is a special player and person. He is everything we are looking for in a Chargers player," said GM 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."
Gates, 30, has spent his entire seven-year career with the Chargers after signing as an undrafted free agent in 2003. He has played in 109 games, starting 105, and has 479 catches for 6,223 yards and 59 touchdowns. He has made the Pro Bowl in each of the last six seasons and was named to the NFL's All-Decade Team for the 2000s. Since entering the league, Gates ranks first among all tight ends in TD catches, second in yards and third in receptions.
"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."
With Gates locked up, Smith could now turn his attention to working out an extension with OLT Marcus McNeill, an unsigned restricted free agent who has threatened to hold out if the team does not give him a long-term deal.
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