The offseason is going to be interesting for the Los Angeles Chargers when it comes to some of the top players on the roster.
Hunter Henry is generally considered one of the best young tight ends in the league but injuries have kept him from fulfilling his full potential. In four seasons with the Chargers, Henry has caught 136 passes for 1,709 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Those numbers would be even bigger if he didn’t miss the entire 2018 season after suffering a torn ACL in May of that year.
Henry returned in 2019 and posted decent numbers (55 receptions, 652 yards, 5 touchdowns) but he was also injured in the season opener and missed multiple games. He’s been good for the Chargers but not as good as he could have been.
As they scour the free-agent market, there should be no doubt that Henry will be one of the names that sticks out in bold font for the New England Patriots.
Though the Patriots made the playoffs this year, they were eliminated in the Wild Card round and it became clear from about the midway point of the season that they just weren’t the same team that contends for the Super Bowl year in and year out.
The Patriots had more than one issue this season but the one that stood out all season was the lack of a receiving option at the tight end position. The team didn’t even come close to replacing the retired Rob Gronkowski, but when you’re trying to accomplish that with the likes of Matt LaCosse, Ben Watson and Ryan Izzo, that should not come as a surprise.
The Patriots had a total of 36 receptions made by tight ends in 2019.
That makes Henry a pretty obvious target and going to a team with the type of long-term success that the Patriots have had could also be attractive to Henry, making the feelings on each side mutual.
Between Henry, Philip Rivers and Melvin Gordon, the Chargers need to have a very particular plan with each player as those decisions could shape the team’s future for many years to come. The team could re-sign all three guys or all three of them could be wearing new uniforms next season.
Previously, I talked about where Rivers could play next year and seeing Henry go to a place like New England is at least as possible as Rivers joining the Indianapolis Colts. With that said, you can make the argument that of those three players, Henry might be the most important one to retain.
The Patriots are generally a pretty aggressive team in getting the players they want and after the bitter taste of an early playoff exit this season, they may become even more aggressive this offseason. The free-agent signing period officially begins on March 18.
Between now and then, the Chargers could come to an agreement to re-sign Henry and keep him off the market. But if they choose not to do that, it seems likely that the Patriots will make their sales pitch to the 25-year old tight end.