Coach Boone said it best, “You can not replace a Gary Bertier.” In this case replace Gary Bertier with Hunter Henry. A season that would prove that Henry would be not just a premier tight end, but the best tight end in the NFL, will have to wait. Expectations were extremely high for Hunter getting set for a massive 2018 season. Which makes the scene that happened early in OTA’s even more excruciating.
Heartbreaking to say the least Henry, or “Handsome” Hunter Henry as my wife calls him, tore his ACL. No it wasn’t on a crazy catch that would make highlights for years to come. It was a basic out pattern, according to the team’s official website. The Handsome one will be back though, and stronger than ever. Look at Keenan Allen for goodness sake. If Henry ever needed a mentor on an injury such as this, he certainly has one.
So the Chargers have a MASSIVE gap at tight end right now. No disrespect to Virgil Green, but the Bolts will be on the look out for a playmaker. A receiving tight end if you will. According to Chargers.com Tom “Terrific,” stated that they will basically leave no stone unturned. The good news, if any, is that the injury happened now. Philip can work in whoever the Chargers decide to sign as their pass catcher, but who? Who can be part of this special team? A ton of options, while some might not be as popular as others, they still need to be considered as good options. Mercedes Lewis has been taken off the market, but free agency is still a big and most likely option. Let’s review my 5 options I would consider if Tom channeled his inner Joey Nicks.
5) Brent Celek- A free agent and fresh off a Super Bowl Championship season. Hard to ignore that he has seen and been through what it takes to win a Super Bowl. His numbers weren’t exactly stunning last season, but he has a timely manner of making plays at big moments. With his age he isn’t going to get any better, but he started 10 games last year and averaged 10 yards per catch. This would also be a 1-year deal as well. Remember, Henry will be back.
4) Coby Fleener- Really not a bad choice. While Fleener has failed to reach expectations, his numbers aren’t that bad with an average of over 12 yards per catch the last two years is promising. At 29 years of age he, should still have a strong build and be able to hold up to the regular season. The down side? He has only caught five touchdowns in two seasons with just over 900 receiving yards. He has had a lack of production under Drew Brees, and as we know Drew can make anyone great.
3) Antonio Gates- I don’t know how else to put this, and forgive me lord for saying this, but it’s not my favorite option. It holds a lot of positives to it though. Too many to ignore for Tom Tolesco? Gates is familiar with the system, Philip and the fan base. He stepped in down the stretch beautifully when Henry had a lacerated kidney. I don’t have to say much here because he’s a football God, but has become more of a possession tight end than anything else. So it makes sense and while it isn’t my favorite solution, it might make the most sense. This could also be some crazy insane way that God works and Antonio comes back for one year and retires a Charger. So the more I write about this option, the bigger I am becoming on it. I really don’t want to have to rip the band aid off twice and have to watch Antonio part ways with his beloved Bolts again.
More from Bolt Beat
- LA Chargers: Drue Tranquill takes a jab at Gus Bradley’s defense
- LA Chargers second-year players: Nothing lose and a lot to gain
- LA Chargers: Why running back could be a big issue for the Bolts
- LA Chargers: Chris Rumph’s upside is Melvin Ingram-like, but better
- Chargers: Reggie Slater calls LA the “dream scenario” for Rashawn Slater
2) Dwayne Allen- This one is tricky. So Dwayne Allen is due to make bonus’ in 2018 for the New England Patriots and honestly he really hasn’t panned out to what the Patriots were hoping. So this would almost become of game of chicken. Do you trade or wait? There is a good possibility that Allen and the Pats part ways and he gets cut. Allen has had a decent share of chances in New England to make an impact but really has only proved to be an awesome blocker. So what do the Chargers do here? I honestly could not tell you, but Dwayne could provide a big-bodied target for the red zone. Best case scenario you are able to revamp Allen’s career. His 2016 season he averaged just over 11 yards per catch and caught six touchdowns for the Indianapolis Colts. Why wouldn’t he be able to do the same with Rivers, if not better?
1) Rob Gronkowski- The other Patriots tight end. Now this is a complete wish and hope. I’m not quite sure how it could/would happen, BUT it isn’t as far fetched as I initially thought. Gronk has one year left on his deal. The Chargers only need him for one year. Gronk wants out, is L.A. far enough? Also, in a market where you lost a huge star, you bring in a bigger one? That would be impressive in the “Fight for LA.” The situation is perfect for the Bolts. If this were to happen, I would have zero problem placing the Chargers as a Super Bowl favorite. Which is also why I don’t see it happening. In order for Tom Brady to get to the Super Bowl, he would have to go through the Chargers and Bill Belichick doesn’t want that, but it’s worth a call and an inquiry. Again, while this is a complete wish list item, it makes sense for Gronk and the Chargers. Bill and the Pats however might need some persuasion.
It is important to remember that any solution the Chargers take is a one-year band aid. Henry will be back next season, God willing. So his journey has a detour and is in no way complete. This has a chance to be Henry’s finest hour. Stare this adversity in the face and overcome it. No doubt that he will, but what remains to be seen is how the Chargers will adapt to life without him this year. Curious to see though what other people think a solution could be.