The Chargers kept Antonio Gates in the fold, agreeing to terms with the tight end on a two-year contract. The team also signed Cleveland Browns wide receiver Travis Benjamin to a four-year deal worth $24 million and $13 million in guarantees, according to ESPN and media reports.
Gates tweeted about staying in San Diego after his deal was announced.
Happy to remain a @Chargers . My intentions have always been to retire in San Diego . No place I'd rather be. Best Fans and organization.— Antonio Gates (@AntonioGates85) March 9, 2016
Chargers general manager Tom Telesco indicated before the start of free agency that the team wanted Gates, who will be 36 in June, to retire a Charger.
Benjamin fills a void in San Diego's offense for a deep threat created by the retirement of Malcom Floyd. The Miami product also serves as a potential playmaker in the Chargers' return game. San Diego averaged a league-low 4.2 yards per punt return in 2015.
"He's a playmaker that brings a different dynamic to our team. His speed will be an asset, as he has shown the ability to really stretch the field," coach Mike McCoy said in a statement. "We're also excited for what he can do as a returner. His speed and overall athleticism will help us in both phases."
Benjamin, 26, picked the right time to have his best season. He totaled a career-high 68 receptions and 966 yards in 2015, which ranked second on the Browns. Benjamin also had five receiving touchdowns.
"He's just so explosive," Rivers said in a statement. "We saw it when we played [Cleveland] last year. He makes defenses look out because he can run by you in a hurry. He is very versatile and I think he will fit right in as another guy to spread the ball around to."
Before 2015, Benjamin was mostly used as a situational receiver. He earned a starting job in training camp prior to last season and never gave it up, starting 15 games and setting aside the concern that he was too frail at 175 pounds to play every down.
His speed is his forte, as he also excels as a punt returner. His average of 12.6 yards per return ranks first in the NFL since he entered the league in 2012. He is one of seven players with three punt returns for a touchdown in that time, and he holds the Browns' record for punt-return yardage in a game (179 in 2013) and longest punt return (93 yards in 2012).
Benjamin tore an ACL in 2013 and took almost the entire 2014 season to regain confidence in the knee.
Gates missed four games at the start of last season because of a suspension, and another contest due to an MCL knee sprain. He played through pain during the second half of the year and still produced, finishing with 56 catches for 630 yards and five touchdowns.
With 104 career touchdown receptions, Gates is seven away from tying Tony Gonzalez, the NFL's career leader in touchdown receptions for tight ends. Rivers and Gates have connected on 77 touchdowns during their careers in San Diego, the most in NFL history for a quarterback-tight end tandem.
Gates is the all-time leader for the Chargers in receptions (844), receiving yards (10,644) and touchdown catches.
He has played a full 16-game season in two of the past three years and since 2012 has missed just two games due to injury. He played 463 offensive snaps in 2015.
ESPN Browns reporter Pat McManamon contributed to this report.