Antonio Gates just made the most bizarre request of the NFL offseason

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We're about at that time in the NFL offseason where players are returning to franchise facilities to begin work for the 2015 season.

As such, there are hopeful players across the league speaking confidently of their ambitions, and predictions, for the upcoming campaign - proudly proclaiming they deserve a bigger role in the team.

The opposite approach

And then there is San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates who, speaking today, may have just made the most bizarre request we have heard in a while.

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Coming of the back of an impressive 2014 season in which he racked up 12 touchdowns (good enough for second best in his career) you would think Gates would be reminding everyone he meets that he can still cut it at the ripe old age of 34.

Not quite. The future Hall of Famer instead went on record to say that he wants to play less for the San Diego Chargers this year.

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"I'd like to come in on third-and-7s, red zones, those situations," explained Gates. "That's what my contribution is at anyway."

"With injuries and whatnot, I played a little bit more than they expected me to play last season...I was playing the whole game. How I feel next year, it depends on how much volume they have me doing," he told MMQB.

Wise head on old shoulders

Antonio Gates' comments may juxtapose with just about every other NFL player playing the game today, but they are not totally ludicrous.

As alluded to above, the tight end has been in the league (and with San Diego) since 2003. He is coming towards the end of his time in pro football and, regardless of his impressive numbers in 2014, he knows that his body simply cannot handle the punishment of being in on every down like it once could.

Request ignored?

Gates has the stature within the franchise to voice these kind of suggestions to his coaches. Whether they take any notice of them though is a different matter.

The Chargers have a talented young tight end in the form of Ladarius Green who could certainly fill in for Gates during the upcoming campaign. The elder statesman though does a lot more than fill in when he is out on the gridiron.

What do you think Chargers fans? Can San Diego afford to reduce Gates' minutes in 2015? Have your say in the comments section below...

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