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News » San Diego Chargers Inside Slant 2009-04-10

San Diego Chargers Inside Slant 2009-04-10

San Diego Chargers Inside Slant 2009-04-10
Maybe the man most happy about Tampa Bay showering Kellen Winslow Jr. with a rich contract was the Chargers' Antonio Gates.

While Winslow's numbers can't compare to Gates, that didn't stop the Buccaneers from handing him a six-year, $36.1 million deal which includes a $20.1 million chunk of guaranteed money.

Gates, the perennial Pro Bowler, and the Chargers will soon be doing business. And with business being good for tight ends -- see Winslow's deal -- Gates will soon become a very rich man.

But Gates wasn't talking about holding up the Chargers. He said it's even more important to remain in San Diego than worry about matching anyone else's contract.

That statement will certainly bring a smile to Gates' agent Tom Condon -- he's never known for giving anyone, especially the Chargers, a discount.

But Gates swears there's no denying his love for the Chargers and his teammates.

"I've been a San Diegan for six years now, and I no longer bleed red," Gates said. "I bleed powder blue. So any time you talk about something that's sincere to your heart, any time your soul gets involved in a situation, you know you don't want to leave it. I want to be here. I want to be a part of this. That's my stance."

That's fine, but Condon will ask and likely receive a contract which will surpass what Winslow -- the son of former Chargers great Kellen Winslow -- received.

The Chargers, with the drama of what to do with future Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson behind them, now look to take care of other stars.

Quarterback Philip Rivers expires after the 2009 season and Gates' comes due the following year.

"You hear things," Gates said, "but nothing's for certain."

The last time these parties locked horns it was contentious. Gates had to sit out the 2005 opener -- a Chargers loss; they missed the playoffs by one game that year --on his way to getting his six-year, $22 million deal.

"It was complicated then, and hopefully it won't be in the future," Gates said.

Gates had since switched agents, but the one representing him now -- Condon -- is among the toughest in the business. Condon was able to reach common ground with the Chargers with another one of his clients, Tomlinson, but has butted heads with the organization in the past when representing Drew Brees and Marty Schottenheimer.

"That's about as tough as it gets, when you start talking about contracts," Gates said of negotiating that first deal. "I've been through it before, although it was a different situation.

"I do know that what we're trying to accomplish as a team has nothing to do with this. This is my personal situation, which is completely separate from the team. L.T. just went through it, and I'm sure Philip and I will go through some things. The player and the team have to find a happy medium and a good situation for both."

Gates is smart enough to know that negotiating is as big as part of the NFL has catching passes.

"I know there is a flip side," Gates said. "I know this is a business situation. It's hard for me because I don't treat it like a business. I view this team as a family. You try to put in what you want out of it. It's like anything in life. When you put your heart into something, that's what you expect in return."

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 10, 2009

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