The 2015 San Diego Chargers finished with a 4-12 record, earning them the third pick in the first round of the upcoming draft.
Due to many needs all over the roster, the organization needs to find ways to supplement their roster from within prior to exploring free-agent options and draft picks. The first position group they can do just that is at tight end.
Despite the preseason speculation about the desire of Antonio Gates wanting to return for the 2016 campaign, he has set the rumors to rest by making it clear that he indeed is interested in coming back for at least one more year.
To put it quite simply, it is a no-brainer that the future Hall of Famer should be re-signed to a one-year, team-friendly contract, allowing him to finish out his brilliant career in lightning bolts.
Gates, for as long as many of you can recall, has been the No. 1 read for quarterback Philip Rivers since proving that he is a force to be reckoned with in the league. Although he is no longer as fast as he once was, he is still more than capable of creating separation due to his knowledge of the game and route-running ability. Despite missing four games in 2015 due to a suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, the 13-year veteran was able to amass 56 receptions for 630 yards and five touchdowns.
The team — via upper management — has already stated that they are looking to retain Gates’ services for the 2016 season.
Because it seems as though the re-signing of Gates is inevitable, there is another tight end whom the team should re-sign. But, as opposed to the logical reasoning behind bringing back No. 85, the team would be re-signing this player with an eye toward the future at the position, as opposed to having the former back for one last hurrah.
Green set career highs during the 2015 season despite missing time. At 6-foot-6, he presents a match-up problem for opposing defenses. Though his height is an obvious asset when matched up against linebackers and safeties, his speed for his size it what sets him apart, even when singled up by cornerbacks.
At only 25 years old, Green still has a ton of room for growth within the nuances of the San Diego offense. Though the Bolts have a new offensive coordinator in Ken Whisenhunt, the responsibilities of the tight end position will not change drastically.
Realistically, Gates coming back is not in the best interest of Green, but his return does greatly benefit the team.
Does that make sense?
Green, who will turn 26 in May, has learned what he can under the tutelage of Antonio. But that doesn’t mean that I’m saying the two can’t be the best tight-end tandem in the NFL in 2016.
After achieving career-highs in receptions (37), receiving yards (429) and (four) touchdowns, Green is primed for a breakout campaign.
Will the proposed return of Gates limit the statistical gains of Green?
The long-term future at tight end for the San Diego Chargers is Ladarius Green. He has the ability to create headaches for opposing defenses due to his aforementioned traits. Having Gates in the fold for one more year accentuates his opportunity to take advantage of defenders with a player like Gates on the field.
Green is not an overly effective route runner, but he does a good job of leveraging his size against defenders to allow his speed to create the necessary window that Rivers trusts for a possible connection.
Fans should expect that the names on both the No. 85 and No. 89 jerseys will remain the same going into the 2016 season. Additionally, they should be very excited about it.