Prediction #5: Hunter Henry does not re-sign with the LA Chargers
Some suspect that not picking up the franchise tag means Hunter Henry will sign somewhere else in free agency. I wouldn’t necessarily go that far. The Chargers will still make a competitive offer for Henry, but it’s a matter of whether it will be enough. Not picking up the franchise tag is a signal that Telesco might not be willing to overpay.
The concern should be with the two teams who sit atop the salary cap table. Jacksonville and New England are both flush with cash, as both teams have $55+ million to spend as it stands currently.
Bill Belichick has publicly made it known how much he likes Henry. The Patriots desperately need more pass-catching options in their offense, especially with Julian Edelman’s future in the air. It wouldn’t shock me if Belichick is willing to overpay Henry in free agency in an attempt to jump-start the offense. It would be the opposite of what you’d expect from Belichick, but the Pats aren’t constructed like they were in the Tom Brady era.
The Patriots also re-signed Cam Newton to a one-year deal this morning, so there’s less of a question mark at quarterback now.
Jacksonville could also similarly overpay for an offensive weapon without experiencing much of a financial consequence. Trevor Lawrence is basically already the quarterback there.
It’s not impossible to see the Jags or Pats throwing out a deal to Henry between $13-14 million in AAV that the Chargers just don’t want to match. Poaching arguably the best tight end on the market to pair with your generational rookie talent at quarterback would make sense for Urban Meyer.
I do think the Chargers will try their hardest to retain one of Herbert’s weapons, but he may just become too expensive. There are also other options on the market like Kyle Rudolph, Jonnu Smith, and potentially Philadelphia’s Zach Ertz.
Should another franchise be willing to overpay for Henry, I expect Telesco to pull out of negotiations with the tight end.