LA Chargers: It is time to say happy trails to Hunter Henry
By Chris Phillips
Josh from the new ‘Blue’s Clues and You’ kids show says it perfectly when it comes to Hunter Henry and the LA Chargers.
“Well, it’s time for so long. But we’ll sing one more song.”
This is the result of allowing your 3-year-old to pick the tv channel to watch. So much Nick Jr. An adult can only take so much. But it is with this farewell in mind that Charger Nation needs to say their goodbyes to Hunter Henry.
As everyone knows, Henry is a free agent after GM Tom Telesco decided against franchise tagging Henry for a second time.
Add the tight end position to the LA Chargers’ list of positions that need to be addressed.
“Not so fast my friend,” as Lee Corso is famous for saying. The LA Chargers can roll with Donald Parham Jr.
Parham is a 6’8″, 237-pound, 23-year-old out of Stetson. He will be entering his second year in the league in 2021. Playing in 13 games in his rookie year, Parham finishedd with 10 catches for 159 yards and three touchdowns.
By comparison, Henry’s rookie year numbers were 15 games played, 36 catches for 478 yards and eight touchdowns. One caveat is Henry started his Charger career with Philip “Short Throw Sammy” Rivers. Rivers loved to pepper his running backs and tight ends with targets. Henry also had to compete with looks from legend Antonio Gates.
The tight end position is a luxury piece for an offense to have. The most important pieces to a successful offense are the quarterback, wide receiver and lineman.
NFL offenses are moving farther away from the bell cow running backs. Offenses with the tight end as the main passing target can be good but they’re not great. For some examples look at San Francisco, Baltimore and Las Vegas.
All those teams’ number one receiver is a tight end and all of them are dying for a number one wide receiver. The Chargers have their dynamic wide receivers, they don’t need to spend big money on Henry when they currently have a guy who can be as good as Henry in time.
One other thing to note about the aforementioned teams: all their tight ends took a few years to develop into the studs they are currently.
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Listen, nobody is going to convince you that Parham is better than Henry. That’s simply not the case. What can be convincing is the fact Parham can do exactly what Henry did, in time. The knocks on Parham are all things that can easily be corrected by NFL-level strength and conditioning coaches and some good NFL coaching.
What can’t be taught by any coach is height. With Parham’s height and subsequent arm length, he has an advantage catches passes thrown higher or more out in front of him.
Parham is considered a project tight end. He’s already got one NFL season under his belt. Now he should have his first normal NFL offseason. The tight end position in the NFL is changing from its old days.
More and more are being asked to focus specifically on part of their position, blocking or pass-catching. Parham may never be on the level of a Rob Gronkowski when it comes to blocking. Then again, maybe he can, eventually.
What Parham can do right now is be a big giant body pass catcher for Justin Herbert. Utilizing his 6’8″ frame to box out defenders for touchdowns or targets over the middle. His scouting report card already puts him in the pass-catching tight end designation.
Parham just needs to get better and prepare this offseason with the mindset of him being the starter. His contract isn’t up until after the 2022 season. At that point, a reasonable expectation is Parham will command a reasonable bump in salary.
Something the LA Chargers can easily afford and not have to break the bank. So, join me in singing the refrain of N*SYNC’s most popular hit song to BYE BYE BYE to Hunter Henry.