An Antonio Gates hasn't been in the NFL since the 2018 season ... but another could be on the way soon -- and, according to the Chargers legend himself, the next one could be better than the first!!
Gates tells TMZ Sports ... his boy -- Michigan State Univ. redshirt freshman receiver Antonio Gates Jr. -- has the goods to one day make it to the NFL, and be an even bigger star than he was once he arrives.
"I think so," Gates said out in Beverly Hills this week. "I really believe that."