The first tight end domino fell on Monday morning. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the New England Patriots signed Jonnu Smith to a four-year, $50 million contract with $31.25 fully guaranteed. This is both good and bad for the LA Chargers.
The good news is that one of the biggest players for Hunter Henry is now off the market. The New England Patriots were the favorites to sign Henry away from the Chargers, mostly because of the salary-cap space the team has as well as all of the praise Bill Belichick has thrown Henry’s way.
The bad news is that this has a direct impact on Henry’s market price. Henry is unequivocally the number one tight end of this free-agent class and Smith getting the most money for a tight end ever is only going to push Henry’s agent to re-establish that bar.
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I have seen some fans spin this as the Patriots being desperate and overpaying for Smith — but if that is the case, why wouldn’t they just pay the same amount for Henry, who is the better all-around tight end? This is not a case of Smith getting overpaid and getting more than Henry. Henry will now get more as a result.
How much will the LA Chargers have to pay to re-sign Hunter Henry?
There are other teams with cap space that can continue driving this price up. The LA Chargers are not the only players for Henry now that the Patriots are out on a tight end. Most notably, the LA Chargers are going to have competition from the New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars.
With this in mind, the LA Chargers are going to have to pay a pretty penny if they want to keep Hunter Henry around.
Hunter Henry contract projection: Four years, $52 million ($33 million guaranteed)
Players and their agents (even more so) absolutely care about setting the bar. We see this time and time again in sports but premier free agents always strive to set some kind new milestone. Now that Smith has set that milestone, Henry is going to want more.
It does not have to be a lot more, it just has to be enough where he gets to say he got the biggest free-agent contract by a tight end in NFL history (until next offseason). Henry does not seem like a guy that cares too much about that, but his agent certainly will and wants to attach that to his name.
Thus, I have him getting $2 million more than Smith in overall money and $1.75 million more in guaranteed money. This comes out to $13 million per season and $8.25 million in guaranteed money per season (although it will be loaded into the first three years).
The overall number is not as important and with proper cap-space savviness, Tom Telesco could get the cap hit down to anywhere between $8-10 million. Henry will be owed his money at some point, though, and it will still be a rather large cap hit for a tight end.
What do you think? How much do you see Hunter Henry getting in free agency and would you sign him if that was actually his price? Let us know in the comments down below!