Tue Jan 14 4:31pm ET
By JOE REEDY
AP Sports Writer
In this Sept. 16, 2018, file photo, Los Angeles Chargers' Antonio Gates warms-up before an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, in Orchard Park, N.Y. Gates announced his retirement, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, following a 16-year career that saw him finish with 116 touchdowns, which is the most by a tight end in NFL history. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus, File)
In this Dec. 24, 2017, file photo, Los Angeles Chargers tight end Antonio Gates (85) greets fans before an NFL football game against the New York Jets in East Rutherford, N.J. Gates announced his retirement, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, following a 16-year career that saw him finish with 116 touchdowns, which is the most by a tight end in NFL history. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun, File)
In this Dec. 24, 2017, file photo, Los Angeles Chargers tight end Antonio Gates (85) reacts after catching a pass for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets, in East Rutherford, N.J. Gates announced his retirement, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, following a 16-year career that saw him finish with 116 touchdowns, which is the most by a tight end in NFL history. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
Antonio Gates, who became one of the most prolific tight ends in the NFL without playing a down of college football, announced his retirement Tuesday.
Gates spent his entire 16-year career with the San Diego and Los Angeles Chargers. His 116 touchdown catches are the most by a tight end in league history.
''I never dreamed that I would play this game of football so long or how fortunate I would be to play it with just one organization,'' he said in a statement. ''I want to thank the Chargers organization, Dean Spanos and the Spanos family, and the National Football League for the opportunity to live out a dream and play the game I love.''
Gates, who did not play this season, will join the Chargers front office as a legends ambassador. He is the franchise leader in receptions (955), receiving yards (11,841) and touchdowns. His 220 regular-season games are second. He had eight seasons when he had eight or more touchdowns and 21 multi-TD games.
Among tight ends, Gates' receptions and yards are third, and his games rank fourth. He was a three-time selection to the All-Pro team as well being picked for the Pro Bowl eight times. He will be eligible for consideration for the Pro Football Hall of Fame beginning with the Class of 2024.
''He no doubt is one of the greatest tight ends to ever play the game. He is the master of a pivot three and a seven route. He ran all of the others pretty dang good also,'' said Philip Rivers, whose 89 TD passes to Gates make them the most prolific QB-TE duo in league history. ''He was so hard to cover that we had a `Gates Rule' in the QB room. We would talk through the reads and the plays and they all had a `Gates Rule.' It pretty much meant, if he is one on one, throw it there.''
Gates played football at Detroit Central High School. He originally went to Michigan State to play football and basketball but left when Nick Saban only wanted him to play football. He transferred to Eastern Michigan but would eventually end up at Kent State, where he led the school to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament in 2002.
His 6-foot-4 frame didn't draw much interest from NBA scouts, but his hands and footwork did attract NFL scouts, who were aware of Gates' high school career. He signed with the Chargers as an undrafted rookie in 2003 and made an immediate impact. The first of his 21 100-yard games came in a Week 9 win over Minnesota, the first by a Chargers rookie since Wayne Walker in 1989.
Gates helped the Chargers to seven postseason appearances. His TD in last year's divisional-ound loss at New England made him the oldest tight end in league history with a score (38 years, 209 days).
General manager Tom Telesco is hopeful Gates will not have to wait long for his chance to get into Canton.
''Antonio redefined what the tight end position looks like and is responsible for how we evaluate and view the position in today's NFL,'' he said. ''Rewriting the record book is obviously part of it, but when you needed a big block, needed to convert that first down, needed a steadying voice in the huddle or leadership in the locker room, that was Antonio. He didn't just do one thing well, he did everything well. And that's what makes him a first ballot Hall of Famer in my book.''
Los Angeles Rams WR Josh Reynolds caught six of 11 targets for a total of 104 yards in two starts last season.
Fantasy Spin: The two starts came with freshly-traded WR Brandin Cooks out of the lineup, but they were in fairly difficult matchups against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Chicago Bears. Reynolds will be the third option behind WRs Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods with Cooks moving on to the Houston Texans. He'll be worth streaming in plush matchups and will be a high-priority waiver addition if Kupp and/or Woods were to suffer injury.
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, who considers himself "the best back in the game," wants to stay in Minnesota for the long haul. The 24-year-old will make a base salary of $1.331 million in his fourth season in 2020. Cook finished seventh in the league in 2019 with 1,654 yards from scrimmage, running for 1,135 yards and catching 53 passes for 519 yards. He has one year left on his rookie deal and is in line to sign a lucrative contract extension, but he wants to stay with the Vikings. Discussions about an extension between the team and his agent are ongoing. Cook thinks he can become more of a receiver out of the backfield and catch more passes in 2020, which would surely make him an even more valuable RB1 for fantasy owners. He has injury concerns, but there's no arguing with the fact that Cook finished as a top-five fantasy running back last year.
The Houston Texans acquired wide receiver Brandin Cooks and a 2022 fourth-round pick from the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday in exchange for the 57th overall pick in this month's draft. The Texans traded elite wideout DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals in exchange for running back David Johnson earlier this offseason, so adding another receiver to help pick up the slack from Hopkins' departure was necessary. Houston's receivers now include Cooks, Will Fuller, Randall Cobb and Kenny Stills at the receiver position. Cooks should be the No. 2 behind Fuller, while this acquisition mostly hurts Stills and Cobb in the pecking order. The 26-year-old missed two games with a head injury last year and caught only 42 passes for 583 yards and two touchdowns, breaking a streak of four straight 1,000-yard seasons. Cooks has boom/bust potential in fantasy while pairing up with quarterback Deshaun Watson, but there sure are a lot of mouths to feed now in Houston's passing game.
Los Angeles Rams WR Brandin Cooks and a fourth-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft were traded to the Houston Texans Thursday, April 9, in exchange for the No. 57 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Fantasy Spin: Moving Cooks, who is coming off his worst statistical season since his 2014 rookie campaign, clears even more room for WRs Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. Kupp is the better of the two options and should be targeted as a high-end WR2 in 2020 fantasy drafts. Woods will be a viable WR3.
Los Angeles Rams WR Brandin Cooks was traded to the Houston Texans Thursday, April 9, in exchange for the No. 57 pick the 2020 NFL Draft. The Texans also received a fourth-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft in the deal.
Fantasy Spin: Cooks dealt with multiple concussions last season, but he was still able to play and start 14 games. He caught 42 of 72 targets for 583 yards and two touchdowns. All figures were his lowest since his 2014 rookie season with the New Orleans Saints. He's the clear No. 1 option in the Texans' offense and the best replacement for the recently-traded DeAndre Hopkins, but he doesn't have anywhere near the same upside. He'll be a risky low-tier WR2 in drafts.
Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury said the third running back spot behind RB Kenyan Drake and RB Chase Edmonds may still be open following the re-signing of RB D.J. Foster. 'We think he has a good skill set,' Kingsbury said in regard to Foster, 'but that's an area we'd like to have three that you feel like we could roll through and not lose much.'
Fantasy Spin: Drake is the clear fantasy target from the Cardinals' backfield, and he'll be a strong RB2 as the depth chart currently stands. The selection of a top-end rookie back within the first three rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft could take away from Drake's appeal in re-draft leagues, and the younger option would likely become the superior dynasty target.
Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook said Thursday, April 9, he'd like to stick with the team for the foreseeable future. 'I definitely love Minnesota,' said Cook. 'I love everything the state has to bring. Being a kid, I was drafted (in 2017) from Miami (his hometown), so I didn't know what I was getting myself into. I actually am happy where I'm at, and I would like to be in Minnesota long term. ... It's all about what the person believes in, what the owners believe in, the GM believes in, and I firmly think the Vikings believe in me.'
Fantasy Spin: Cook said in the same interview he considers himself to be the best running back in the NFL. Entering the fourth and final season of his rookie contract, the 24-year-old has yet to play a 16-game season. He rushed for a career-high 1,135 yards and 13 touchdowns across 14 games in 2019 while adding 519 yards as a receiver. He's a strong RB1 in all formats, whether or not the Vikes add a top receiver in the 2020 NFL Draft.
New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman won't be prosecuted after being cited by police for misdemeanor vandalism earlier this year, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. The owner of a car Edelman damaged informed the DA's Office he doesn't want Edelman charged, and he was fully compensated for the repairs.
Fantasy Spin: While this was never expected to keep Edelman off the field in 2020, he now is fully cleared to be ready whenever the 2020 NFL season starts. He heads into the 2020 NFL Draft as the Patriots' No. 1 receiver, but he'll be handcuffed by the team's shaky quarterback situation following the free-agent departure of Tom Brady.
Updating previous reports, Cleveland Browns DE Adrian Clayborn's contract was finalized Thursday, April 9, by the NFL.
Updating previous reports, Dallas Cowboys DT Dontari Poe's contract was finalized Thursday, April 9, by the NFL.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are unlikely to pursue free-agent quarterback Jameis Winston as a backup for Ben Roethlisberger in 2020. The Steelers could probably use an upgrade over either Mason Rudolph or Devlin Hodges behind Big Ben, but they also have former first-round pick Paxton Lynch on roster. Winston led the league with 5,109 passing yards in 2019, but he also led the NFL with 30 interceptions as his turnover-prone ways continued. The Bucs chose future Hall of Famer Tom Brady over him this offseason, and Winston's market has been pretty much non-existent since he hit the open market. The 26-year-old seems destined to be a backup somewhere in 2020, which leaves little room for fantasy value after he was a QB1 for most of last season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said that, "We have a lot of faith in Ronald Jones II. We have more faith in him than we ever have." Jones had a dreadful rookie season in 2018, but he was much better last year in a timeshare with Peyton Barber, running the ball 172 times for 724 yards (4.2 yards per carry) and six touchdowns in 16 games (nine starts). Barber is now gone, so theoretically Jones should have a bigger workload. However, he still leaves a lot to be desired with pass protection, and the Bucs must keep the pocket clean for new quarterback Tom Brady. Dare Ogunbowale is next up behind Jones, and the Bucs could address the position further in the draft. Jones' value will depend on who else is splitting time with him and if he can improve in pass protection, which will give him a chance to be on the field more during third downs.
Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa's (hip) doctors "have been very clear that Tua's health is fine. There's no recurrence that's going to happen here." Everything regarding Tagovailoa's rehab from a serious hip injury have been encouraging, and he's been given a clean bill of health by his doctors. Interested teams have a tougher time gathering information on injured prospects during the coronavirus shutdown, but his doctors and agents are doing everything they can to assure teams that he'll be ready to go without restrictions in 2020. Already a lock to go within the first 10 picks of this month's draft, his positive health outlook is making him a lock to be a top-five pick now, possibly as high as No. 3 if a team trades up with the Lions.
Free-agent defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is considering short-term deals after he's encountered a very cold market in free agency. Clowney has already dropped his asking price from $20 million per season, and now it looks like he's willing to accept a one- or two-year deal to re-establish his value as a pass-rusher. The Browns have shown interest in Clowney, and some around the league believe Cleveland got closer to signing him than any other team, but there remains nothing imminent. The 27-year-old is a nuisance in both the pass and run game when healthy, but he has a long injury history and has never had a double-digit sack season, which is why teams aren't giving into his demands this offseason. Plus, with the absence of physicals during the coronavirus pandemic, interested clubs aren't able to give Clowney a physical with their doctors.
Free-agent quarterback Cam Newton is willing to wait to pick a team, possibly until after the draft, in order to make sure the fit is right, according to a source close to him. There just aren't many teams looking for a starting quarterback right now, but things should become more clear after the draft. The Chargers and Patriots seem to be the best fits, but neither club has shown much, if any, interest in the former MVP. Part of the problem is that Newton has dealt with shoulder and foot injuries the last two days and teams are unable to conduct their own physicals with players. It's making things tougher on Newton on the open market. The dual-threat QB's stock is obviously down coming off injury and without a team, but he could bounce back in the right situation. Stay tuned.
New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman won't face prosecution after he was cited for misdemeanor vandalism in January, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. Edelman was arrested on Jan. 11 in Beverly Hills after jumping on the hood of a vehicle and causing damage. The owner has been fully compensated for the repair costs and has dropped any charges. The veteran wideout led the Patriots with 100 catches for 1,117 yards and six touchdowns in 2019, but his fantasy stock will go down with quarterback Tom Brady leaving in free agency. Edelman can still be useful in PPR leagues, but the consistency should suffer with either Jarrett Stidham or another QB throwing him the football next season.
Unrestricted free-agent PK Stephen Gostkowski (Patriots) intends to play in 2020, provided there is a season. 'I'm not ready to just hang it up,' Gostkowski, 36, said. 'I'm gonna try to play. It's going to be tough to show teams what I can do right now or work out or do a physical, but I'm not too worried about it. I'm not concerned. I kind of take things day by day.'
Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones was given an endorsement from general manager Jason Licht on Thursday, April 9. 'We have a lot of faith in Ronald. We have more faith in him than we ever have,' Licht said.
Fantasy Spin: While this doesn't say much, and it could easily be construed as "GM speak," the fact Tampa has yet to bring in a running back this offseason says something to Jones' credit. The NFL draft will be interesting for a team with few other glaring needs and a prized new quarterback to help. Jones has RB2 potential if all goes well, but there's also a great deal of concern through uncertainty and his lack of consistently capable play to date.
Updating previous reports, unrestricted free-agent CB Bashaud Breeland (Chiefs) agreed to a one-year deal worth up to $4.5 million with the Kansas City Chiefs, according to a source Thursday, April 9.
New York Giants kicker Aldrick Rosas signed his restricted free-agent contract on Thursday after the Giants previously made a second-round qualifying offer on March 16. The 2018 Pro Bowler has made 62 of 75 field-goal attempts (82.7 percent) and is 86-for-94 on extra points in 48 regular season games for the Giants. He made 32 of his 33 kicks in 2018, which was the fifth highest total in team history, and his 97 field-goal percentage was a Giants record. However, he attempted only 17 field goals in 2019 and made 12 of them, while making 35 of his 39 extra points. Until New York's offense proves worthy under second-year quarterback Daniel Jones, Rosas should be avoided in most fantasy leagues.