3. What is the LA Chargers’ plan if Hunter Henry signs elsewhere?
Simply put: the LA Chargers do not really have an established backup plan right now if Hunter Henry were to walk. This is not the case of the team drafting a young Henry to eventually take over for Antonio Gates. The team has no next-man-up that can be an every-down tight end.
I love Donald Parham as much as the next person and I think he could be even better for the Bolts next season. However, he is not a good blocker and still has only proven himself in a very limited role.
If Parham was two years into his Chargers tenure and was even better in year two then I could understand the Chargers being comfortable with him getting more snaps at the position. As much as I like him, we have not seen enough to hand over the keys to Parham.
I really liked what I saw from Stephen Anderson in the last two games with Henry out but again, that is such a small sample size that cannot fully be trusted.
There really are no other free-agent tight ends worth pursuing and there is no point to pay another tight end 80% of what they would have paid Henry. The 2021 NFL Draft is another option, but I do not love that for multiple reasons.
First is that the team has other pressing needs that they cannot waste an early-round pick on a tight end. Thus, they are going to end up getting a fourth-rounder at best and that fourth-rounder is not going to be a big contributor in 2021.
Plus, we can spin a fourth-round tight end as being a big pickup all we want, but how often does that really work? There are two TE1-worthy tight ends that were drafted in the fourth round or later: Darren Waller, George Kittle, Logan Thomas, Tyler Higbee and Dalton Schultz. There are 46 tight ends currently in the league that were drafted in the fourth round or later.
That is a success rate of just under 11%, and in the case of Thomas and Schultz, they did not become legit TE1 options until this season.
There is not a tangible backup plan if the LA Chargers do not re-sign Hunter Henry, making it all the more important that they do.