Legendary tight end makes sense for Arizona Cardinals
By Jim Koch
The Arizona Cardinals could use a reinforcement at the tight end position, and the great Antonio Gates is an intriguing option
The Arizona Cardinals solved some of their problems during last week’s NFL Draft. Roster needs were addressed by general manager Steve Keim, most notably at the quarterback position. Josh Rosen was drafted to be the face of the franchise, bringing smiles to the faces of many Cards’ fans.
Not every hole was filled, however. One area of the squad that wasn’t attended to was the tight ends. Fortunately for Arizona, there’s veteran help available if they desire to acquire it.
We’re now almost two months into the free agency period, and a future Hall of Famer remains unsigned. Antonio Gates has had an excellent NFL career that has lasted for 15 seasons. Even so, the Los Angeles Chargers, the only team he’s ever played for, have told the 37-year they don’t want him back.
The Cardinals could sure use the veteran’s services. Starter Jermaine Gresham tore his Achilles’ tendon last December, and his availability for the start of the regular season is uncertain. Second-year player Ricky Seals-Jones showed flashes of brilliance in 2017, but has just 12 career receptions on his resume.
Cards’ offensive coordinator Mike McCoy has a history with Gates. The 2003 undrafted free agent played for the Arizona assistant when McCoy was the head coach of the then-San Diego Chargers. During those years (2013-16), Gates was tremendous, hauling in 255 balls for 2,871 yards and 28 touchdowns.
The 6’4″, 255 pounder’s career statistics are eye-popping. Gates has tallied 927 receptions, 11,508 yards and an incredible 114 scores during his time in the league.
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Keim has a propensity for signing experienced contributors to one-year “prove-it” contracts. While Gates would more than likely be inked to a one-year deal, the Kent State University product obviously has nothing to prove. A union with the Cardinals may be just a phone call away.