Jan. 14 (UPI) -- Former Los Angeles Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, an eight-time Pro Bowl selection, announced Tuesday on social media that he was officially retiring from the NFL.
Gates, 39, last played in the 2018 season and recorded 28 receptions for 333 yards and two touchdowns. He sat out this season after he went unsigned as a free agent.
"After 16 seasons in the NFL, 16 seasons as a Charger, eight Pro Bowl appearances and many records broken, I find it hard to officially put this statement out and retire from the game of football," Gates said in a statement. "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.
"While today I am officially retiring as a Charger, I am grateful that I will still be lending my services to the Chargers organization -- just now in a completely different capacity through the team's community engagement initiatives and public facing events."
Gates finished as the Chargers' career leader in receptions (955), receiving yards (11,841) and touchdown catches (116). He ranks first in touchdown grabs and third in catches and receiving yards among tight ends in league history.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers and Gates combined for 89 touchdowns, the most in NFL history by a quarterback-tight end tandem.
Gates will become eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2023.