The Los Angeles Chargers have been in contact with Antonio Gates' representatives about the veteran tight end returning to the team.
Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said in a radio interview that he has been in touch with Gates, whose 15-year tenure with the franchise ended on May 1.
"Obviously, Antonio would be a natural fit," Telesco told San Diego station 97.3 FM, per the Los Angeles Daily News. "He's someone that we have talked to. We've talked to his representatives. Sometimes, it's not just as easy as saying, 'Hey, let's just bring him back. Let's go.'"
The Chargers had been expected to pursue Gates after tight end Hunter Henry suffered a torn ACL during organized team activities last month.
Henry's injury left blocking tight end Virgil Green atop the team's depth chart at the position. None of the other tight ends on the roster have caught a pass in an NFL game.
Considered a lock for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Gates had a reduced role with the Chargers in 2017, playing 478 snaps and making 30 receptions for 316 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
Gates, who turned 38 on June 18, hadn't had fewer than 49 catches in a season since recording 30 as a rookie.
An eight-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time All-Pro, Gates is the Chargers' all-time leader in receptions (927), receiving yards (11,508) and touchdowns (114), with his touchdown total an NFL record for tight ends.
Gates has caught 87 touchdown passes from Philip Rivers, the most in league history for a quarterback-tight end tandem.
He also has 21 games in his career with more than 100 receiving yards, one of only seven tight ends to achieve that feat.
Los Angeles, which will wrap up its minicamp on Thursday, will begin training camp on July 28.