LA Chargers News

Is best option to replace Henry already on the roster?

COLUMBIA, SC - NOVEMBER 05: Sean Culkin #80 of the Missouri Tigers runs with the ball against the South Carolina Gamecocks during their game at Williams-Brice Stadium on November 5, 2016 in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
COLUMBIA, SC - NOVEMBER 05: Sean Culkin #80 of the Missouri Tigers runs with the ball against the South Carolina Gamecocks during their game at Williams-Brice Stadium on November 5, 2016 in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Hunter Henry is out for the season. I know, that probably hasn’t full sunk in yet.

Recently, I came up with a list of five tight ends on the free-agent market the Chargers should strongly consider signing. Well, one of those guys is already off the table as the Green Bay Packers have signed Marcedes Lewis.

Many fans of the Chargers would love to see them bring back Antonio Gates, but there’s a reason why that move (or any other) hasn’t already happened.

It’s because the team is confident, at least for now, in the other tight ends on the roster.

That list includes Braedon Bowman and twp undrafted rookies, Cole Hunt and Ben Johnson. But there’s another guy, Sean Culkin, who could provide the answer to this question.

Born in Florida, Culkin played his college ball at Missouri. He was never much of a receiving threat for the Tigers, catching 61 passes in 28 games. That likely led to him going undrafted. He probably didn’t have many believers in Chargers’ camp last summer, and my undrafted rookie spotlight on him, which completely missed the boat, was reflective of that.

But Culkin showed something to the team. He made the initial 53-man roster and though he didn’t see any offensive snaps, he did have Henry and Antonio Gates in front of him. The team also had veterans Sean McGrath and Jeff Cumberland.

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For one reason or another, all four of those guys are currently out of the picture, meaning the door has swung wide open for Culkin, a player the team saw something in last year.

In college, Culkin was a versatile player who lined up at every position you can imagine, including as a fullback. He has ideal size at 6-5 and 255 pounds and showed some athleticism in college.

If the Chargers didn’t believe they have something in a guy like Culkin, Gates would have been brought back by now or another veteran would have been signed.

Below is a highlight package of Culkin from his days at Missouri. Look for No. 80. You’ll see a player who can chip in as a blocker and make plays in the passing game.

Many fans may be screaming the name of Virgil Green right now but I can tell you that as a guy who has watched every game he’s ever played in for the Denver Broncos, he’s not a receiving threat. Can he make plays in the receiving game? Sure, on occasion. But Green is successful because he’s an outstanding blocker, and that’s what he’ll bring to Los Angeles.

As for a receiving option, if the Chargers aren’t going to bring in another tight end, Culkin may be the best bet on the roster to give the team something in that area.

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