Former Chargers offensive standout could become cap casualty in 2023

New York Jets v Los Angeles Chargers
New York Jets v Los Angeles Chargers / Katelyn Mulcahy/GettyImages

The LA Chargers are in a precarious cap situation heading into the 2023 offseason. After the most aggressive offseason in team history, the Chargers need to free up over $20 million in cap space to become cap compliant and be able to pay their own draft class.

As a result of this situation, Tom Telesco and Brandon Staley are going to have to make some tough decisions. Some players may end up being cut or traded, with other players being prime candidates to be restructured.

The Chargers are not the only team in this situation as there are going to be cap casualties from around the league. Some are from teams who are dying for cap space while others could be from teams that have cap space but have an overpriced asset that they can get rid of.

An example of the latter is true of former Chargers standout, Hunter Henry. Henry left the Chargers after the 2020 season to sign a big contract with the New England Patriots. And while he has been fine production-wise, it would not be totally surprising if he becomes a cap casualty this offseason.

Former Chargers' TE Hunter Henry could be cap casualty for Patriots.

Hunter Henry is going to be the third-highest-paid tight end in 2023 and he does not play like he is in that conversation. Henry has not been bad for the Patriots like Jonnu Smith has been but he has certainly been less-than-spectacular.

While the Patriots have ample cap space, they could also free up an additional $10.5 million by cutting Henry this offseason. An even savvier move would be trading Henry for draft capital. That is something that is right up Bill Belichick's alley as he could free up cap space and get a late-round pick all in one.

This may seem absurd with Henry being a bigger name but we see surprising moves from Belichick all the time. Belichick always seems to be one step ahead of the rest of the league in evaluating players, which is why Henry is a legitimate cap casualty candidate.

Since Belichick seems to love Henry, though, the Patriots could also go in a different direction. The team could extend Henry, adding another year or two of his contract at a cheaper price to get his cap hit down this year while keeping him in New England for another season or two. Henry does not have nearly the value he had as a free agent back in 2021, so they should be able to do this for a decent price.

MUST-READ: How the Chargers can free up $36 million in cap space

Regardless, the Chargers have been proven right with their hesitancy to pay Hunter Henry. He has been serviceable and has actually played all 34 games for the Patriots but he has not played nearly like the third-highest-paid tight end should play.